Our group spent Wednesday and Thursday (April 2 and 3) in Mexico City meeting with millers and bakers who use U.S. wheat.
On Wednesday, we started the day with the Mexican Millers Association or Canimolt. Mexico City has 92 various millers, which process about 5.2 million metric tons of wheat and produce 4.1 million metric tons of wheat flour each year. The millers have a capacity of 8.027 million metric tons of production.
On average, Mexico produces about 3.6 million metric tons of wheat, and usually imports about 2.8 million metric tons of wheat from the U.S. each year to meet its demand. Mexico is the sixth largest buyer of spring wheat in the world for the U.S.
An interesting fact to note is that Mexican farmers produce more durum wheat than the country can use or export. So, they use it for animal feed. It's not a quality issue, just that the Mexican farmers find that durum wheat is easier to grow and yields more than hard red winter wheat. In 2006, Mexico exported nearly 213,000 metric tons of durum to Italy for pasta production.
Life after NAFTA for Mexican producers has changed. They switched out a lot of land from wheat production and turned it into fruit and vegetable production, which are higher value crops.
We moved from the offices of Canimolt to the offices of the Altex Group for a discussion of the transportation and logistics of moving wheat from the United States to Mexico with Armando Rosales. From there it was a late lunch with the Mexican Millers Association.
One thing I discovered today is that the business world in Mexico City runs on a schedule that revolves around the overwhelming traffic here. With more than 22 million people in one city, it's a trial just to get anywhere, let alone anywhere on time. And, Mexican businessmen break around 3 p.m. for a two-hour lunch and really enjoy socializing. I don't know how they do it. If I had their schedule, I'd be exhausted.
Oh wait, I'm on a trade mission that's covered four countries, two continents, seven plane rides, six hotels and umpteen thousand miles. I am on their schedule and I am exhausted!