Kiwi exporters looking to diversify their markets should not overlook opportunities arising in Mexico from a booming middle-class, says New Zealand's trade commissioner to the region.
New Zealand exports to Mexico were worth $363 million in the year to December 2010, making the country our 24th biggest trading partner.
Jorge Arguelles, New Zealand Trade Commissioner for Mexico, says New Zealand companies have not traditionally thought of the country as a priority market. "Mexico has been pretty stable though for the past 12 years," he said.
"The bigger middle-class is creating a lot more opportunities for New Zealand in terms of consumers."
There are 30 to 35 New Zealand companies operating in Mexico, said Mexico City-based Arguelles.
"We're seeing a lot more New Zealand companies trying to get into the market.
It's better for companies to have this mix of export markets, so I would encourage them to discuss their plans with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and create a business development plan with us."
A World Bank report out this week shows 17 per cent of Mexico's 113 million people joined the middle class ranks between 2000 and 2010.
A growing middle-class means more demand for high-protein products, of which New Zealand is a top producer, Arguelles said.
Dairy products already account for 62 per cent of New Zealand's exports and he would like to see that grow. But he said New Zealand should also be looking to push its other strong areas, such as agribusiness.
Mexican agricultural producers are open to innovative processes and products and there are opportunities around machinery and efficient technologies, he said. "It's well known that New Zealand is a world leader in terms of efficiency in agricultural production.
"We're trying to promote these products and services into Mexico."
Companies such as Tru-Test and Gallagher have been operating in Mexico for a number of years but Arguelles thinks there is room to grow. Other opportunities exist in the consumer-retail sector as urbanisation and rising income levels lead to increased consumer spending.
Children's clothing brand Pumpkin Patch officially launched in Mexico last week and Arguelles said he would like to see others follow suit.
* New Zealand and Mexico established a diplomatic relationship 37 years ago.
* Two-way trade was worth NZ$597 million in the December 2010 year.
* New Zealand's main imports from Mexico include electronic communications equipment, computer components and beer.