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Latin America / Industry News & Trends / Business & Markets

It seems that the agricultural industry is not sexy

Pollo de Pilgrim's
February 13, 2017

I have always said that the agricultural industry lacks appeal to the general public. For example, usually to advertisers (with honorable exceptions), working with a chicken breast seems unattractive compared to a car, an expensive watch or fashionable clothes. The same goes for politics today.

With the looming trade war between U.S. President Donald Trump and the rest of the world, we’ve heard talking about brands like Ford, Chevrolet and Carrier. Has anyone mentioned Tyson? Or Cargill? Or generics such as Colombian coffee or Mexican avocados? Nobody, or almost no one, has said anything. These products are not flashy and do not attract attention. They are not aspirational.

Perhaps there are two reasons: 1., that it is such a sensitive topic, that it cannot be touched not even with a rose petal, or 2., it has not been given the importance it deserves and agricultural products will have tariffs placed on them that are equal to all other goods, regardless of the consequences.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article (in Spanish) about the importance of the Mexican market for U.S. agricultural exports. It is as easy as this:The US is No. 1 in corn (from poultry feed, all the way to movies popcorn), and also in soybeans, chicken, turkey. ...  But I've also written that Brazil and Argentina are there - two giant, very competitive producers, indeed, although further away from Mexico - that can sell their products.

The world was stunned, but it is awakening. Just last week, it was announced that Mexico can already import Brazilian poultry genetics. And Mexico already imports Brazilian chicken. Mexico is a stone’s throw away and anything can be brought by rail from the U.S. But when walls are raised in between, either cement or commercial, with 120 million people to feed, Mexico seems to finally look south, complete with a stiff neck from looking so much north.

Mexico will have to move up gears. Arturo Rangel, vice president of Foreign Trade at Canacintra (Mexico’s industry chamber) and Juan Antonio Barragán, Intrade, already said in El Economista newspaper, "That Mexico has a pending task and that has downplayed trade with Central and South America, the relationship with Asia has jettisoned, while the Middle East has been wasted, due to ignorance."

Mexico also has to move up gears with poultry health issues, such as avian influenza and Newcastle disease, and once and for all, eradicate these diseases.

Our industry is not sexy? Come on! What do you think?

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