Berries have experienced a remarkable boom in Mexico in the last decade. According to the National Association of Berry Exporters (Aneberries), its cultivation has gone from practically nothing in the early 2000s to 17,000 hectares in 2011 and tripled to 55,000 hectares at the end of 2021. However, this expansion is not exempt from criticism related to different issues, such as the decrease in the area devoted to corn, a vital staple food for Mexico.
According to official data from the federal government, in the last decade, the area destined for growing corn has fallen from 7.7 million hectares to 7.2 million. Even though the amount of land destined for corn is many times greater than that of berries, Mexico doesn't produce enough corn to meet national demand.
Moreover, the country imports 37% of the corn it consumes nationally (about 17 million tons) because, according to specialists, there is no longer enough land to increase grain production. In 2021 alone, according to data from the Bank of Mexico, the country disbursed 5,146 million dollars in corn imports to meet national demand, the largest amount in history.
A matter of profitability
The growth in Mexico's berry crops is not surprising if one takes into account the profitability of these crops. For example, a recent study by the Autonomous University of Chapingo shows that the cost-benefit ratio, which determines the viability of a productive project, amounts to 2.82 for blueberries, 1.88 for raspberries, 1.82 for strawberries, and 1.76 for blackberries.
The cost-benefit ratio of sugarcane and corn, two staple crops, is only 1.5 and 1.2, respectively. In fact, the profitability of berries is similar and even higher than that of other crops that have a high export rate, such as avocado, which has an index of 1.84.
Behind the high profitability of these berries is the notable increase in their price as a result of the high demand, especially from the United States and certain groups with high purchasing power in Mexico.