The considerable increase in Mexico's strawberry production over the last decade has positioned the country as the world's leading strawberry exporter.
According to official statistics, the cultivated area of strawberries in Mexico grew by 63% between 2011 and 2019. On average, 10,375 hectares were planted, and production rose by 97% reaching 443,994 tons of fruit in 2019.
This growth has notably boosted exports. The country went from exporting 65,143 tons of fresh strawberries worth $ 255 million in 2010 to exporting 200,000 tons worth $ 827.3 million in 2019.
According to Pedro Antonio Davalos Gonzalez, a researcher at the National Institute of Agricultural and Livestock Forestry Research (INIFAP), said that Mexico's competitive advantages, climate, use of foreign improved varieties, protected cultivation in macro-tunnel, and low cost of labor had allowed Mexican producers to become great competitors in the strawberry international market. This allowed Mexico to surpass Spain as the world's leading strawberry exporter last year.
Complaints from American Producers
Due to the increase in Mexico's strawberry exports, Florida farmers have requested the US government to limit imports of Mexican fresh fruit. According to them, the fruit arrives at very competitive prices at the time when they are starting their harvest, reducing their profitability.
However, Davalos stressed, within the T-MEC, Mexico is the main producer and exporter of fresh strawberry during the fall and winter, a time when there is a deficit of this product in the US, as California and Florida are just beginning to produce.
Regarding the central argument of US farmers, the supposed subsidies granted by the Mexican government to their producers, Davalos clarified that, in general, Mexico had no subsidies for strawberry producers. Furthermore, nearly 60% of the inputs needed to grow this berry are imported and Mexican producers pay for them almost twice as much as California and Florida strawberry producers.
"Most of the inputs used, the improved varieties, vegetative material, fertilizers, plastic and drip irrigation supplies, pesticides, and even fuels come from abroad; only 40% of national inputs are used to produce strawberries, which includes land, water, labor, electricity, and fuel," he said.