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NZTE’s Doing Business in Mexico & Peru seminar in September opened the eyes of Kiwi exporters to the opportunities presented by the two fast emerging markets. ExporterToday was there.

It began with a slick video and some impressive facts highlighting the improved trading relationship and opportunities between New Zealand and the countries of Mexico and Peru. Notably, New Zealand enjoys two-way trade worth close to $800 million per annum with Mexico and F&P Healthcare’s factories there manufacture around a third of the company’s production.

Further south, Peru is our third-largest export market in Latin America. We already have strong ties across both markets – but there is so much more potential presenting itself as we go into 2020.

At the Doing Business in Mexico & Peru seminars hosted by NZTE on September 24th, many minds were opened to the new trade possibilities across both markets. A new appreciation for the opportunities in the Mexican market in particular came via research on Mexican consumer perceptions of themselves and of New Zealand, co-funded by NZ Story and the Latin America Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence, or CAPE (


Understanding Mexico

Nathan Farmer, partner and GM of Big Picture, the research partner responsible for undertaking the market perception research, explained how focus groups in Mexico City, comprising both older and younger consumers, gave Kiwi businesses an understanding of how they are perceived there, how product categories are perceived, and how Mexican consumers see themselves.

Business-to-business interviews provided additional insights around technology, food and beverage, the primary sector and education.

As a result of all this research, Kiwi firms looking to Mexico as an export opportunity have access to a greater understanding of the country’s history, its characteristics, and the shift from a traditional culture and viewpoint to a more modern one.

“There is a greater sense of cosmopolitan living and innovation,” says Farmer.

The research clearly showed that younger Mexican consumers represent the best target for Kiwi exporters going forward. It also revealed how little these consumers know about New Zealand.

While Mexico’s new left-wing government has a desire to support ‘Made in Mexico’, Farmer says the country’s experiential culture is open to unique imported products. He refers to ‘cultural friction’ – “looking for the differences and then presenting that to them as something new and allowing them to have their own unique application of that”.

Therefore don’t try and sell them beer, which they are already particularly good at, but sell them wine.

There’s also the perceived barriers of New Zealand’s distance and associated higher pricing for Mexican importers to come to grips with, explains Farmer, along with a perception that New Zealand exporters may struggle to deliver scale.

Perceptions can be quickly dispelled though by building relationships and partnerships in market and spending more time there, he suggests.

Another insight highlighted by B2B research includes ensuring you link up with the right person – the decision-makers. And Mexico has a very masculine culture, explains Farmer. “So it’s a case of ‘show us the win for our business, and show us the win for Mexico as well’.”

He summed up his talk by saying Mexico presents a significant opportunity for Kiwi exporters and is the easiest of the Latin American countries to do business with.

“But be clear on your target market. Yes the population is 130 million, however six percent live below the poverty line and 60 percent live on less than US$600 a month. So definitely focus on the niche, emerging consumer – who still represents a massive market for us.”


Peru: A surprisingly open economy

Rhiannon Berry, NZTE trade commissioner for Chile, Peru and Bolivia, quickly set the scene around Peru as an excellent export opportunity, despite the country’s unstable political situation. Peru has enjoyed 20 years of continuous economic growth and its currency, the sol, is considered very stable. Add to that the country’s healthy public finances, declining levels of poverty, rising middle class and increased domestic consumption – as well as a well-developed judicial system which protects investments – and you can see why it is an attractive export destination.

Berry paints a bright picture. Peru enjoys a high uptake of new technologies, an increased focus on sustainability, efficiency and productivity, and offers many opportunities within the agricultural sector.

Although Peru has yet to ratify the CPTPP trade agreement, it is just a matter of time and Berry sees it as a real window of opportunity for Kiwi firms to gain competitive advantage.

Peruvians’ perceptions of New Zealand are largely positive, she explains. “They trust us, they find our products easy to use and they understand our strong agricultural heritage, especially dairy.”

She also explained how Peru is an agricultural and horticultural powerhouse. It is the world’s 13th largest exporter of fruit and vegetables, and has cleverly used irrigation to open up deserts for cultivation.

“Peru is an open economy and definitely outward looking,” she says. “It is a positive economic story and open for business.”

Carlos Fernandez-Gates, a Beachheads Advisor in Peru was at the seminar to cover some of the practical considerations of doing business there. He offered a list of do’s and don’ts for Kiwi exporters – explaining that it’s never wise to grant exclusivity to a distributor until a minimum agreed amount of sales is achieved; it’s important to establish strict rules and a strategy around entering the market; and in Peru commercial statements can be misleading – you may be hearing a lot of “yes’s”, but there is a reluctance in the Peruvian culture to say “no”, and confirmation of sales can generally only be achieved through building a long-term relationship.

It seems your first impression of any Latin American market is not necessarily the ‘’real” impression, and it will require many trips to unravel the true trade potential of this fascinating continent.

This article was first published nin the December 2019 issue of NZBusiness.

For assistance and information on Latin American markets, go to

Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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