The Mexican government has expressed an ambition to be among the top 10 export countries for agro-food products by 2030. In collaboration with the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research has designed a National Agrologistics Programme to help Mexico realise this ambition. The programme comprises fifteen promising projects designed to bring about drastic improvements to logistic performance and, consequently, the country’s export position. It is expected that implementing these projects will help Mexico to rise from 20th position to a top 10 place in the world ranking for export value, and from 50th position into the top 20 of the Logistics Performance Index.
The Mexican Ministry of Agriculture (known as SAGARPA) and the Investment Fund for the Rural Sector (known as FOCIR) commissioned Food & Biobased Research to analyse the country’s agrologistics in terms of infrastructural facilities, the level of organisation and the available knowledge. The research institute did this together with Professor Van der Vorst from the Operations Research and Logistics Group of Wageningen University and other international experts.
When it comes to infrastructure, it would seem that most freight in Mexico is transported by road. The quality and geographical distribution of roads could be vastly improved. End-to-end cold chains have not been properly developed due to a lack of refrigerated capacity in production areas. Quality, customs and safety inspections also represent a key area of improvement. In addition, the people who work in the agro-food chains could have greater access to training and education opportunities. Based on the current situation, Food & Biobased Research proposed fifteen promising projects that could generate economic profits of up to 100 thousand Million Mexican pesos (approx. € 6 billion), a 10% reduction in food wastage and more than 9,000 new jobs by 2018.
Focus on American market
Mexico has a strong export position in the fruit and vegetable sector: it the world’s largest exporter of avocados and the second largest exporter of tomatoes. The US is the country’s largest customer by far, with a Mexican market share of around 60% for vegetables and 30% for fruit. The introduction of global standards for quality and logistics is an opportunity for Mexico to boost its export position.
An essential step that will benefit the American market in particular is Mexico’s intention to add value to its agro-food products by, for example, processing and packaging more products in its own country. This will provide better service for the major American retail and fast-food companies.
Agroparks could play an important role in this plan. SAGARPA is already running an additional programme for developing agroparks. Food & Biobased Research identified a number of agrologistic corridors: geographical areas between production and demand, optimally located for setting up clusters of agro-food companies.
National Council for Agrologistics
The transition to efficient, sustainable agrologistics in Mexico will only be successful if it is managed by a powerful management team, which can liaise between the various ministries and the private sector. Food & Biobased Research is therefore recommending a National Council for Agrologistics, which would report directly to the Office of the President. An independent body like this is far more effective than a single ministry.
The National Agrologistics Programme was presented to the Mexican Secretary for Agriculture, Enrique Martínez y Martínez, and the Undersecretary for Food and Competitiveness, Ricardo Aguilar Castillo, by Dr Willie van den Broek and Olga Vázquez Ruano from Food & Biobased Research in the presence of the Dutch Ambassador Hogewoning and Agricultural Counsellor Rummenie on 7 October 2014.