Mexico is already the main non-EU market for Spanish cured, cooked and preserved pork products and hopes are high that pork meat will be included in any deal with the EU.
Spain’s meat export promotion body, La Oficina de Exportación de la Carne de España (OECE), said that subject to satisfactory reports by its inspectors, Mexico is expected to renew soon-to-expire export authorisations for visited plants already selling there.
New applicants, which were inspected, are also expected to receive approval to start selling into Mexico, where the volume of Spanish ham and sausage products surged from 912 tonnes (€10 million) in 2013 to 1,037t (€10.5m) last year; 75% of those exports by weight were ham or legs of ham.
Currently, only pork in the form of cured, cooked or preserved products can be sold from Spain into Mexico. However, the European Commission is negotiating over improving the existing bilateral free trade agreement between the EU and Mexico that would include allowing EU pig meat of other kinds into the Mexican market.
The OECE said that 79 Spanish meat businesses were now selling pork products to Mexico, after passing inspections in recent years by the Servicio Nacional de Sanidad, Inocuidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria (SENASICA), the Mexican health, safety and food quality inspection service.
OECE manager Daniel de Miguel told GlobalMeatNews: "Recent years have seen increasing interest in Mexico for Spanish cured ham and sausages, especially among medium-high and high-end consumers in large cities. They value the socioeconomic profile of Spain’s culinary tradition."
Mexican tourist areas, with hotels operated by large Spanish leisure chains are also an important market for Spanish products, he added.
Spain is keen to expand pig meat sales to Mexico for several reasons, de Miguel explained, with one eye on the trade negotiations. "It is the second-largest economy in Latin America. A segment of the population has high purchasing power, and there is an emerging middle class. Recent years have seen an expansion in consumption."
Mexico could also be a back door to distribution of Spanish meat and other products in its big spending neighbours to the north, he added: "It is set up as an important gateway to the American and Canadian markets due to the free trade agreement it has with these two countries, the North American Free Trade Agreement – NAFTA."