Enabling Mexican fresh produce export to Europe

In 2020 a direct shipping route for reefer containers will be established between Mexico and the Netherlands. This provides opportunities for Mexican exporters.

The essence of this project is to establish more sustainable fresh food supply chains between Mexico and Europe. Current challenges are the inland infrastructure, supply chain coordination and product quality control in long supply chains.

Mexico has a large production capacity of fresh produce (tomato, peppers, citrus, avocado, bananas and mangoes). The export of produce mainly depends on the USA, as this is a geographically close market. Mexico producers could diversify their export by aiming for markets like Europe, especially with tropical fruit products in which it has a competitive edge, such as mango, avocado and limes. Having access to a wider variety of (profitable) markets for these products which are often produced by poor smallholder farmers, decreases their dependency on one particular market, boosts economic development and reduces poverty in rural areas. Moreover, by taking a leading role in setting up this export chain to Europe, the Netherlands will strengthen its role as agri-food hub and consolidate its position as gateway to Europe for Latin American agro-products.

Fresh food supply chain

The current export market for Mexican agro-products is typically designed for relative short supply chains to the US markets. The challenge in setting up the fresh food supply chain to Europe is preservation of product quality, as the time between harvest and consumer is substantially longer than in the existing supply chains to the US market. There are ongoing initiatives of farmers associations and the industry, such as the one led by United Producers of Mexico, to set up a direct sea freight line between Mexico and Northern Europe, which would potentially reduce shipping time between Mexico and the Netherlands by half . However, a holistic supply chain approach is required to guarantee both product safety and quality. This Seed Money Project focuses on establishing a sustainable fresh product supply chain, with special focus on post-harvest management, enabling exports to Europe.

This Seed Money Project (SMP) aims to identify the opportunities for Mexican exporters and identify how knowledge on supply chain coordination and postharvest management could be valorised in support of the smallholder farmers. This will include capacity building through online training and identifying the opportunity for a future research proejct.