Monthly Market Highlight
The United States has been a primary trading partner of Honduras for years, but economic growth in the Central American nation has allowed for an increase in export opportunities. The growth of the food processing industry, as well as development in the hotel, restaurant, and retail sectors have created more demand for U.S. agricultural products. Thanks to the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), trade with Honduras is accessible, and tariffs are limited. Duties on pork still range from 2-7% depending on product and quota, but all tariffs are scheduled to be phased out by 2020. Pork exports to Honduras totaled 67.6 million pounds in 2018, which is a 10% increase from 2017. Export value also rose 8% to $59 million in 2018.
Overview of Honduras
Honduras is a Central American country that borders the Caribbean Sea and North Pacific Ocean as well as the nations of Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. Honduras is slightly larger than the state of Tennessee with over 43,000 square miles of total area. The climate is subtropical in Honduran lowlands and temperate in mountainous regions. The population of Honduras was measured at 9.2 million in 2018 with most of the population distributed between the capital city of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. According to the CIA World Factbook, only 3.9 million Hondurans are economically active. Honduras is ranked 30th among U.S. agricultural export markets and accounted for $713 million in U.S. exports in 2018. Over the past decade, exports have grown 40% and continue to trend upward.
Animal Protein Consumption and Domestic Industry
Like many other Central American countries, Honduras ranks relatively low in terms of meat consumption per capita. Among top U.S. pork markets, Honduras ranks behind only Guatemala for lowest per capita pork consumption. However, as pork consumption has increased over the past ten years, production has declined. This growing gap presents an opportunity for the U.S. industry to supply greater volumes of pork to Honduras. Poultry is the leader in both consumption, and production in Honduras and is the only animal protein to see increases in production over the past decade.
The Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) reports that the retail sector is the largest market for imported food. Honduran consumers primarily buy their food at supermarkets, mini-markets, and convenience stores. Supermarket chains are rapidly growing and have put a strong focus on remodeling and modernization. Supermarkets can offer promotions and food sales, which attract most of the middle-class population. As a country with low purchasing power and high price sensitivity, the retail industry experiences spikes in sales around holidays. Honduran consumers tend to seek higher quality food items for gifts and special occasions. Agricultural imports from the U.S. are perceived positively in Honduras and consumers often prefer U.S. goods over others.
The most significant challenges to the trade environment in Honduras are the macroeconomic factors that limit citizen purchasing power. For the time being, Hondurans are purchasing high- quality meat products sparingly and are very mindful of sales and promotions. There is some competition from other CAFTA-DR countries, but overall, the U.S. has a very strong position in Honduras. The GAIN report notes that trade between Honduras and the U.S. is done with low logistical costs and transport can be completed in 2-3 days. Many Honduran importers prefer to do business with U.S. exporters because of their reliability and consistency.
Products from the U.S. enjoy a positive perception in Honduras and are differentiated based on quality. This creates an opportunity for U.S. pork to position itself as a high-quality, nutritious and wholesome food source that is both delicious and affordable. Taking advantage of strong ties in Honduras and continuing to integrate pork into the restaurant and processing sectors will prove valuable for U.S. pork exports.