It is important for U.S. firms considering exporting to Guatemala to understand that the market conditions are strongly affected by income distribution and there is a major difference between the inte
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY
USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT
Required Report - public distribution
GAIN Report Number: 1111
Henry Schmick, Regional
Edith Vasquez, Marketing
All sections of the Exporter Guide report have been revised, mainly to update economic data and import regulations.
I MARKET OVERVIEW
A. Current Economic Situation
Guatemala has Central America’s largest economy, accounting for almost one-third of the region’s
gross domestic product (GDP). Agriculture is the principal contributor to the production of goods
and the economy relies on the incomes generated by the tourism sector, remittances from the U.S.
and international trade, especially exports of goods to the United States.
The World Bank reports that Guatemala has one of the most unequal income distributions in the
Western Hemisphere. The wealthiest 10 percent of the population receives almost one-half of all
income and the top 20 percent receives two-thirds to all income. As a result, about 32 percent of
the population lives on less than US$2 a day and 13.5 percent on less than US$1 a day. The
exchange rate has fluctuated significantly over the last twelve months and presently it is US$1.00
per Q7.82 (Q=quetzal).
Guatemala's economy is dominated by the private sector, which generates about 85 percent of
total GDP. Agriculture contributes directly 15 percent of the GDP and accounts for 41 percent of
total exports. Most manufacturing is light assembly and food processing, geared for the domestic
consumption, exports to the U.S. and the rest of the Central American markets.
Guatemala ratified the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-
DR) on March 10, 2005 and the agreement entered into force on July 1, 2006. CAFTA-DR has had
a positive effect on bilateral trade. In 2010, the U.S. exports to Guatemala increased almost 14
percent from previous year. The U.S. exported US$800 million in agricultural, fish and forestry
products to Guatemala; these export levels are very close to those recorded in 2008 that totaled
US$835 million and those numbers were considered record U.S. export sales to Guatemala. In CY
2010, much like previous years, grains represented the largest export category with a 37 percent
share of the total U.S. agricultural exports to Guatemala; followed by intermediate and consumer-
oriented products which according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census Trade Data, these two
categories had the highest export levels reported. For the first three-quarters of 2011, trade
reached almost US$785 million which represents 33 percent increase for the same period in 2010.
Besides CAFTA-DR, Guatemala has a free trade agreement with Panama, Mexico, the Dominican
Republic, Peru, Taiwan, Colombia and Chile. In addition, it has partial free trade agreements with
Cuba, Belize and Venezuela, and is negotiating new agreements with European Union and Canada.
U.S. agricultural exports to Guatemala:
Total U.S. agricultural exports totaled US$800 million in 2010.
Bulk commodities grew from US$281 million in 2006 to US$317 million in 2010.
Intermediate agricultural products grew from US$140 million in 2006 to US$266 million in
2010, an increase of 27 percent from 2009.
Consumer-oriented products increased from US$126 million in 2006 to US$216 million in
2009, an increase of 16 percent from 2009.
Seafood products increased from US$3 million in 2006 to US$3.4 million in 2010.
Guatemalan exports to the U.S.:
• Total Guatemalan agricultural, fish and forestry exports US$1.4 billion.
• Bulk commodities exports US$490 million.
• Intermediate agricultural exports US$103 million.
• Consumer-oriented exports US$792 million.
• Seafood exports US$16 million.
It is important for U.S. firms considering exporting to Guatemala to understand that the market
conditions are strongly affected by income distribution and there is a major difference between the
interior of the country (with the exception of the tourist areas such as Antigua Guatemala,
Panajachel and Puerto Barrios) and Guatemala City.
B. Demographics and Income Distribution
Guatemala’s population is estimated at 14 million in 2010, with an annual growth of approximately
3 percent. The breakdown of the population follows the pattern of an underdeveloped country.
According to CIA World Factbook more than half of the population is below the national poverty
line and 15 percent lives in extreme poverty. Poverty among indigenous groups, which make up 38
percent of the population, averages 76 percent and extreme poverty rises to 28 percent. The
population of Guatemala City with its surrounding seven cities totals 3.1 million inhabitants.
Approximately 42 percent of the population is less than 15 years of age; 54 percent of the
population is between 15-64 years of age and only 4 percent is over 65 years of age. Internal
migration towards Guatemala City has been constant over the last decades. The difference in
population density between Guatemala City and the rest of the country is highly significant
because it has determined the dynamics of economic and social growth of the nation. The
department of Guatemala has a density of 1,376 inhabitants per square kilometer. The second
densest department is Huehuetenango which has approximately 1,114,389 inhabitants followed by
Alta Verapaz with a total of 1,078,942 inhabitants. The rest of the departments have lower than a
million inhabitants. Within this framework, it is easy to understand why most economic activity in
the country revolves around the metropolitan area. Guatemala City and its surrounding areas
offer the biggest concentrated market in the country with an accessible infrastructure.
Income is concentrated in the middle class and above, about twenty percent of the population.
The skewed income distribution determines a particular pattern of consumption, while the majority
of the population consumes merely for subsistence. Therefore, luxury goods can only be targeted
to a significant but small portion of society. However, U.S. food products are very competitively
priced and are sought out by both high-income and middle-income consumers. Other U.S. food
products such as grains, cereals, meats: poultry (chicken leg quarters) and pork, edible fruits and
nuts, fats and oils, and preserved foods, are cheaper than domestically produced products.
AB - is the top 4 percent of the population, who can afford anything. The difference between A
and B is that the A’s are extremely wealthy.
C+ - is the upscale middle class that can afford most food products.
C-is the general middle class that must watch how they spend their income.
D–is the lower class that is just surviving.
E–is the population below the poverty line.
C. Market Size
Guatemala in 2010:
Total agricultural, fishery and forestry imports were US$2 billion.
Total consumer-oriented and edible fisheries imports were estimated at US$937 million.
U.S. share of total agricultural, fishery and forestry imports was 46 percent.
U.S. share of consumer-oriented imports was 25 percent. The biggest competitors for the
U.S. are Costa Rica, El Salvador and Mexico.
Guatemala’s economy is the largest in Central America with a GDP estimated at $41 billion in
D. Advantages and Challenges in the Market
Guatemala is a trustworthy partner of The economic condition of the country limits imports.
the U.S. on trade issues.
There exists a low cost transportation Weakness to build confidence and improve the
of goods thanks to the proximity with business climate in Guatemala.
the U.S. ports.
In Guatemala, there are around The tourism sector in Guatemala is large but security
14,000 restaurants and 2,500 hotels is a concern and the local authorities have much to do
which demand quality products. This to improve their security programs.
creates an opportunity for new
imported goods and ingredients.
Importers are eager to take full Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s) exist with various
advantage of CAFTA-DR and favor countries, including potentially one with the European
trading with U.S. exporters. Union (EU). These FTA’s force the U.S. to be more
The growing food processing industry There is limited infrastructure and distribution,
is looking for new and better food especially for perishable products.
ingredients for bakery, deli meats,
beverages and snacks.
CAFTA-DR gives an opportunity for
U.S. companies to introduce new
products into the Guatemalan market.
The Guatemalan Government (GOG) Lack of a civil service career within the GOG,
maintains an open trading policy. compliance with international standards, makes
regulatory structures fragile and problematic.
Guatemala is unable to meet domestic For the entry in Guatemala of grains, legumes and
demand for cereals (corn, rice) and their products, U.S. exporters must present additional
meats. documentation that certify the wholesomeness of their
products to comply with the Guatemalan Ministry of
Agriculture phytosanitary and food safety regulations.
II. EXPORTER’S BUSINESS TIPS
A. Business Customs
The Guatemalan Government (GOG) welcomes foreign investment and generally few legal or
regulatory restrictions are placed for foreign investors. Guatemala represents a growing market
for U.S. companies and is a country with relative stability, has a strategic geographic access to the
region on both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and is also very close to the United States. With the
implementation of CAFTA-DR, one of the major benefits for U.S. exporters has been the legal
changes that improve Guatemala’s transparency in customs dealings, anti-corruption measures in
government contracting and procurement, and legal protection for U.S. investors.
Most business conducted in Guatemala is based on personal relationships. Business executives
and government officials place great importance on personal contacts with suppliers. U.S.
suppliers should be prepared to have a local representative or distributor and be prepared to travel
to Guatemala. U.S. businesspersons often are surprised at the accessibility to key decision-makers
and the openness and frankness of local buyers.
Sales, service and support rank high in the minds of Guatemalan buyers. U.S. firms, more than
other foreign firms, generally have a reputation for providing good service and support. U.S. firms
interested in penetrating the Guatemalan market should make a commitment to offer excellent
service support to their buyers, agents or distributors. This commitment should be made clear.
Poor or mediocre service often results in lower sales. The Guatemalan business community is
comparatively small and word travels fast about local and foreign firms that offer poor service
B. Consumer Taste
Culturally speaking, Guatemalans have adopted much of the U.S. culture such as music, sports,
fashion and fast food. Through the remittances sent by the Guatemalans leaving in the United
States, the local food consumption trend is changing and more high-value foods are affordable to
them, and consumers are getting more accustomed to U.S. products. Many Guatemalans have
traveled to the U.S. and have been introduced to American food products. U.S. products are
viewed by consumers as higher quality and are preferred to other imports. Approximately 46
percent of all Guatemalan imports of agriculture, fish and forestry products come from the U.S.
Guatemalans have also followed the trend in the U.S. towards more natural and healthy products
and consumers are demanding food with less sugar, saturated fat and cholesterol. Convenience
products have more demand and there is a niche market for refrigerated, ready-to-eat products
and organic foods. The local processing industry is taking advantage of this trend and is
developing and increasing the production of processed products such as tacos, tortillas, burritos,
corn-based tamales, instant soups, etc. which are among the preferred foods in the supermarkets
not only for being easy to cook/heat but also because of their lower prices as they are locally
C. Food Standards & Regulations
1. Import Procedures and Product Registration
The first step to import food products in Guatemala is to register a product. Any producer,
processor, packer, or distributor needs to operate under a sanitary license issued by Food Control.
Importers need to be legally registered and imported products need to be registered as well.
Product registration is required for all packaged food products in Guatemala.
Food Control in the Ministry of Public Health is responsible for all registrations. Regulations and registration procedures
and requirements can be consulted on-line at: http://portal.mspas.gob.gt/indice_de_alimentos.html
As of 2010, the Government of Guatemala (GOG) requests that primary processed food products
have the same registration procedure as end processed food products but additives do not need to
be registered. The GOG has also set in place a mechanism known as "sanitary inscription for
registered products", which allows for an extension option of already existing registries, under
For animal origin products, Food Control issues a sanitary registration number after a laboratory
test has been performed; this registration number is valid for five years and takes six weeks to be
For the other processed products, it takes approximately 7-10 days to obtain the registration
number and laboratory tests will take place within routine surveillance, scheduled annually
according to product category. If products do not comply with labeling standards or food safety
parameters, importers will be notified as necessary. Non-animal products do not require a phyto-
or sanitary certificate; a Certificate of Free Sales applies in this case. The Certificate of Free Sales
is required for registration purposes only, and can be a federal or state document, or can be issued
by a chamber of industry or chamber of commerce. The objective of the Certificate of Free Sales is
to verify that the product is fit for human consumption in the country where it is processed. For
registration purposes, the sample must come with the following documentation: a) Certificate of
Free Sales, b) Bill of Lading, and c) Invoice (with any negligible quantity), specifying it is a sample
The Certificate of Free Sale can include a list of products to be registered, as long as all the
products in that list are registered simultaneously. For example, if 20 products are to be registered
at the same time, Food Control allows for one original certificate and 19 copies to accompany the
rest of the products, since one complete file is kept per registered product.
The Vice ministry of Agriculture, Norms and Regulations (VISAR) of the Ministry of Agriculture,
Livestock and Food Security (MAGA) is the authority that issues the import permit for all fresh food
products in addition to some processed ones (flours, seeds used as ingredients, and other
exceptions). Import procedures are readily available on-line at:
VISAR has six units responsible for issuing import permits: Agricultural Inputs, Veterinarian
Inputs, Phyto and Animal Genetics, Plant Health, Animal Health, and Food Safety. The Agricultural
Inputs, Veterinarian Inputs, and Phyto and Animal Genetics are the units responsible for
registration of pesticides, veterinary drugs, and seeds or animals. Government Decree 36-98 is
the law governing plant and animal health. The Plant Health Unit is responsible to verify that the
agricultural product complies with the country’s phytosanitary requirements.
Please verify that the attestations in the sanitary and phytosanitary certificates comply with GOG
requirements, consulting the "vudi" system, http://portal.maga.gob.gt/vudi-web If the certificate
cannot attest for required pests, it might not be considered valid and the shipment might not
receive and import permit or worse, its entry might be forbidden, even if the shipment has arrived
in a Guatemalan port. Please ask the importer to double check if the "vudi" requirements have
been updated or are in accordance with hard copies of specific requirements available at the
The general requirements to register food products are as follows:
1. Application for registration of food products
2. Certificate of free sales
3. Receipt of payment for laboratory analysis Q1,650 approximately US$200.00
4. Provide the applicable amount of samples
5. Provide example of label design as it will appear on the product
6. An authorized translator must translate all documents.
7. The importer or a Guatemalan legal representative of the exporter must do the
1. Custom Clearance
The Guatemalan Government introduced an automated electronic customs clearance system in
2001. This system was created to increase transparency in the procedure, but it has also created
problems. When the computer reads that the import product is of animal or plant origin, it will
automatically require that the following documents accompany the entry application: bill of lading,
phytosanitary or sanitary certificate, certificate of origin, free sale certificate, packing list,
commercial invoice, and import permit. Guidance document on the various SAT Customs
regulations, PRO-IA-DN-UNP-04.01, can be found at:
procedimientos-de-la-intendencia-de-aduanas-de-la-republica-de-guatemala.html All documents
must be originals. Below is the procedure to acquire the import certificate and the order in which
1. The procedure will start at the Ministry of Agriculture. All imported products of animal or
vegetable origin have to pass by the “ventanilla unica” (“single window”). The documents required
are: phytosanitary or sanitary certificate or FSIS export certificate (for meat
& poultry products), commercial invoice, bill of lading, certificate of free sale, packing list, and
certificate of origin (applied for re-export products), and certificate of attestation for U.S.
horticultural products. These may be copies, but in order to clear customs, the originals will be
needed. An application form with the above mentioned forms must be submitted along with a fee
of Q100, about US$ 12.50, in order to receive an import permit. It is best to drop off applications
before 10:00 am; if the shipment is perishable, the license will be ready for pick-up after 2:00 pm.
For all regular shipments the license will be issued within 24 hours. This time frame usually holds if
there are no problems with the documentation.
2. For processed foods and all products of animal origin, the “ventanilla única” will require that the
application be signed and stamped by Food Control. This is done to verify that the product has a
Sanitary Registration number. In addition, Food Control will also require a Free Sale Certificate in
order to process the request. These certificates are generally issued by state health or agricultural
departments, and certify for wholesomeness. The application and certificates are received and
issued in the offices of Food Control (5a. Avenida 13-27, Zona 9, Guatemala City), office hours
from 07:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday.
3. Food Control and the “ventanilla única” from MAGA will authorize the import permit and the
product will be inspected by the Inter-Regional Organization for Plant and Animal Health (OIRSA).
This is a regional inspection entity in Central America that has been delegated the responsibility of
quarantine actions at custom borders by the Ministries of Agriculture of the region. Whether the
imported product comes by air, land or sea, inspectors from OIRSA will be on site to assure that
the paper work is in order. Then, inspectors perform a visual inspection of the imported products in
order to authorize release from customs. In order to clear OIRSA, the original documents must be
It is important that all quantities in all of the documents match. If not, clearing customs will be a
major problem. Do not add boxes to a container once the documentation has been totaled, and
always make sure that the totals on the phytosanitary or sanitary certificate equal the exact
amount on the invoice. If there is any discrepancy, the container will be held and clearance will be
U.S. exporters must always take into account that a tariff-rate quota (TRQ) system still applies to
various commodities, with a 5 to 20 year phase-out period under CAFTA-DR. If you wish to look
out for a particular product, you can visit
www.fas.usda.gov/info/factsheets/CAFTA/overall021105a.html Please visit the Foreign
Commerce Administration Directorate (DACE) at the Ministry of Economy web site for detailed
information on TRQ administration for Guatemala:
To request additional information and follow-up on approved and assigned quotas per year, you
can visit Ministry of Economy website:
After the import certificate has been issued, this document is provided with all the above-
mentioned documents to the customs official. The importer then pays the duties to SAT.
Duty payment is done in the form of a deposit at either of the two banks that are approved, and
the deposit slip becomes the proof of payment. After all this has been done, the shipment will be
released. This final procedure is done at port of entry. There is still a possibility of a red or green
light at the exit gate of the container. If a red light is received, there will be an additional review of
both documentation and contents of the container. OIRSA might decide to take samples for
quarantine pests, especially in the case of raw agricultural products and coarse grains. After the
laboratory diagnosis is reported, fumigation might be required. It is recommended to request an
"in transit fumigation certificate", to reduce the chances of OIRSA spraying shipments with methyl
bromide. If a green light is received, the container is allowed to leave the yard.
3. Labeling Regulation
Labeling requirements are set by COGUANOR’s labeling standard #34039. It sets 40 requirements
with respect to the appearance of the label, what information should be on the label and stipulates
that it must be written in Spanish. However, importers negotiated with COGUANOR and reached an
agreement for a stick-on label to be used with the following information written in Spanish:
• Product definition/description
• Name of the product (This should be the official name as noted on the U.S. Certificate of Free Sale)
• Physical characteristics, including ingredients (This has to be a qualitative composition, which was
indicated in the back of the registration form). If this information is in English, please translate
• Net weight/volume
• List of ingredients (including allergens) and additives and the total percentage for each one
• Name, address and telephone number of the Guatemalan distributor
• Food Control registration number (D.G.S.S.-D.R.C.A. _________-Sanitary license obtained
at a Center of Sanitation); the original license has to be presented. Approximate cost for each
product: Q. 1,650.00 (Q=quetzal, the national currency).
• Country of origin
• Lot production identification
• Expiration date
• If applicable include “Keep Frozen” or “Form of Preparation”
For additional information please refer to the FAIRS Report 2011 at
III. MARKET SECTORS
A. Retail Sector
The retail sector in Guatemala is dominated by three supermarket chains: Pricesmart, Wal-Mart
(Paiz/La Fragua) and Unisuper (La Torre/Econosuper.) It is estimated that only 40 percent of food
sales are made through the supermarkets and the rest are divided between corner stores and
open-air markets. Three smaller supermarkets began operations in the country and are trying to
gain territory on the retail sector, but these supermarkets are more targeted to the middle low and
lower classes. These are stores smaller than a regular supermarket and in consequence have
smaller shelf space for their products. These supermarkets are: 1) Super Elmar, S.A. is a family-
owned company and has eight stores within Guatemala City. This supermarket has stores located
within walking distance of residential areas and far away from the traditional commercial areas
where most of the bigger supermarket chains are located. The company buys imported products
from local distributors and is still not planning to import directly. 2) Comercializadora Gigante,
S.A., also known as La Barata, has 10 stores which are mainly located nearby the open-air
markets within Guatemala City and its surrounding areas such as Mixco, Villa Nueva and
Amatitlan. They have very few imported products supplied by local distributors and more than 80
percent of their food items are locally produced goods. 3) Super El Barrio has 14 stores and has
the same concept as Super Elmar having stores nearby residential areas but in lower income areas
where most mom and pop stores are located.
Supermarket sales are expected to continue to grow by at least 10 percent a year for the next few
years. The rest of the consumers still rely on open-air markets and the mom and pop stores. The
open-air market is where local farmers sell their products, mostly fresh produce. They are similar
to farmers’ market in the United States. The mom and pop stores, also known as “tiendas de
barrio”, are small stores, on average 30 square feet in size, and carry an inventory worth
approximately US$500. Their major suppliers are distributors, wholesalers and importers, which
also supply to supermarkets. However, they offer very few imported products.
Walmart Mexico y Centroamerica is Guatemala’s largest supermarket chain. In 2009, Wal-Mart
Mexico bought 100 percent of Wal-Mart Central America’s stock and become “Walmart de México y
Centroamérica” it became Guatemala’s leader supermarket chain, accounting for more than 9,000
direct jobs and approximately 4,500 indirect jobs within their 165 sale units in five different
concept stores: Paiz (29), Hiper Paiz (7), Despensa Familiar (113), ClubCo (2) and Maxi Bodegas
(14). Walmart is now importing directly around 85 percent of their food products including,
produce, grains, processed foods and beverages. Walmart Guatemala has most of the purchasing
decisions for the rest of the Central America stores and is interested in expanding the lines of
imported goods at some of their high-end hiper and Paiz’ stores.
In September 2001, the second and third largest supermarket chains in Guatemala merged,
forming one company under the name of UNISUPER with 42 units under the names of La Torre
(31) and Econosuper (11). Recently, UNISUPER decided to remodel most of their La Torre stores
and as a result, some of the oldest Econosuper stores will now change their name to La Torre.
Their goal is to have the same structure and quality service in all their facilities, regardless of the
name of the stores and the sectors they serve. In the past, UNISUPER kept the individual names
of the stores so that customers keep in mind that La Torre’s stores cater to the more affluent
sector, while Econosuper serviced the lower income customers.
UNISUPER is also a member of Supermercados de Centroamérica y Panamá – SUCAP (Panama and
Central America Supermarkets.) SUCAP incorporates 16 different supermarket chains in Central
America (approximately 279 stores), small, medium and large stores that are present not only in
the larger cities but also in the rural areas. SUCAP’s main objective is to keep its market share in
Central America and to compete with Wal-Mart.
This alliance among these well-known Central American supermarket chains, will allow them to
exchange and share their knowledge on software technology, to train their personnel, and to
provide other market intelligence resources that will allow them to reduce prices and transfer lower
prices to their customers.
The members of SUCAP are: El Machetazo, Super 99, Mega Depot and Super El Rey from
(Panamá); Perimercados, Super Compro, Jumbo and Automercados (Costa Rica), UniSuper /La
Torre (Guatemala), La Colonia (Nicaragua), Super Selectos and Super Market (El Salvador) and La
Trends and Highlights
Supermarkets continue their expansion to other cities in the interior of the country and to
some of the nearby areas within Guatemala City.
Supermarket sales continue to grow and are still competing with wet markets and corner
stores. For this reason, supermarkets are building stores closer to the residential areas to
capture more costumers.
Business people that live in residential areas outside the city limits have no option but go to
a supermarket close to their homes for smaller purchases during the week.
The membership discount club and bulk purchase concept have gained acceptance among
consumers, as many find wholesale clubs much more suited for one-stop shopping.
During the weekends, going to the supermarkets is becoming a family activity. Many new
products are sampled during peak hours to motivate and attract consumers to purchase
In the three major supermarkets in Guatemala, convenience and prepared foods are gaining
ground as consumers try to reduce time spent preparing foods at home. Also, business
people who do not want to spend money on fast-food restaurants for lunch look for
prepared meals inside the supermarkets. A wide variety is found: from typical foods to
roasted turkey. Most products are already cooked and served inside the supermarket.
Overall, frozen prepared foods account for 10 percent of imported food sales. The product
variety is very small and few frozen vegetables are found.
There is a trend to eat healthy food low in calories and cholesterol. Most supermarkets
have a diversity of dry, frozen and ready-to-eat products. Also, sugar-free products are
expanding their shelf share and grow every year. These products include items such as
yogurts, candies, jams, cookies and crackers.
Supermarkets offer a variety of services under the same roof from bill payment services,
coffee and deli services to dry cleaning services.
Walmart stores offer to high-end consumers’ on-line grocery sales and home delivery.
B. Hotel, Restaurant and Institutions
Almost 2,500 hotels operate in Guatemala and this number includes 3 to 5 star hotels located in
Guatemala City, as well as the bed and breakfast hotels which are mainly located in the rural areas
of the country. From the 2,500 hotels in Guatemala there is a total of 25,000 rooms available;
the hotels occupancy is around 50 percent year round and it has been stable at that level for the
past years, with the exception of last year when these numbers were lower.
The Guatemalan Tourism Institute (INGUAT) reported that income from the tourism sector in 2010
totaled US$1,378 million which represents an increase of 6.2 percent from 2009. This sector also
contributes to 2.2 percent of the country’s GNP. Guatemala City is the area where most 3 - 5 stars
hotels are located.
In 2010 a total of 1.8 million tourists traveled to Guatemala and the highest number of travelers
was from the United States totaling 517,830 followed by El Salvador with 485,888 visitors.
TOURISTS IN GUATEMALA BY NATIONALITY
NUMBER OF TOURISTS
COUNTRY 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
United States of America 311,689 370,740 409,771 423,000 499,357 517,830
Mexico 72,910 79,731 86,466 92,905 105,456 127,691
El Salvador 497,430 582,676 617,798 647,568 507,802 485,888
Other Central America countries 210,947 231,847 266,495 288,036 384,894 447,929
South America and West Indies 55,342 60,188 63,132 66,031 66,425 65,416
Europe 133,657 141,537 145,188 156,978 173,057 179.824
Other Countries 33,671 35,323 38,702 40,908 39,877 51,199
Total 1,315,646 1,502,069 1,627,552 1,715,426 1,776,868 1,875,777
Source: Guatemalan Tourism Institute (INGUAT)
According to the Guatemalan Restaurant Council (GREGUA), over the past five years there has
been an increase of almost 54 percent in sales. In 2006, sales totaled US$1.3 million and it is
expected that in 2011, sales will total approximately US$2.1 million. The number of restaurants in
2011 is projected to increase to 14,600 units which represent a growth of 6.2 percent from the
previous year. Guatemala has around 14,600 restaurants from which 79.4 percent are formal
restaurants; 4.2 percent are fast-food restaurants and 16.4 are informal restaurants. The majority
of restaurants, 52 percent, serve Guatemalan traditional food restaurants, 30 percent are Chinese
restaurants, 6 percent are U.S. food restaurants, 9 percent are international food restaurants, and
2 percent are Italian food restaurants. The Guatemalan cuisine is diverse but most local dishes
include the main staple of the country: white corn.
The fast-food restaurant is a sector that has grown rapidly not only on their sales at their
restaurants; and in the case of fast-food restaurants, sales increased also because of their home
delivery services. It is expected that in 2012 at least 7 new franchises will begin operations in the
country. The most popular types of fast-food in Guatemala are: hamburgers, pizzas, tacos and
Fast-food restaurants are also an option for business people in Guatemala that now had to change
their eating habits of eating breakfast and lunch at home to eat in restaurants nearby their work
places and this opened the opportunity for this sector.
The Institutional Market
The following sectors are considered important within the institutional market in Guatemala and
depend on the Government of Guatemala (GOG) for acquisition of food products:
Government social programs
Public schools for their lunch feeding programs (when budgeted and approved.)
In Guatemala there are more than twenty social and sport clubs; most of them are located within
Guatemala City. These clubs buy food and beverages from local importers/distributors, open air
markets and wholesale markets. Many of the clubs rent their facilities for social activities like
weddings, baby showers, etc. and are available not just for their members but also for non-
For additional information please refer to the HRI Report 2011 at
IV. BEST PRODUCT PROSPECTS
The following is a list of product categories with the best export potential for U.S. suppliers.
Product 2010 2010 5-Yr. Import Tariff Key Market
Category Market Imports Avg. Rate Constraints Attractiveness for
Size (U.S.$ in Annual Over Market U.S. products
(Metric thousands) Import Development
Tons) Gro%wth ( )
Immed from Nicaragua, iate duty-
free access for C
osta Rica and
Of the 14 million
ime” and Guatemalans, one-
half million are in a
M Other cuts eat & position to afford
Ed imported goods, and ible M 90,974 70,660 5.22 phased-out over eat
O 15 years. Duties ffa an additional 4 ls on other million can afford
products, competitive U.S.
including offal’s food products.
All pet foods are Competition
Pet Foods 14,372 7,060 2.74 tariff free from local
production Guatemalans view
All Central U.S. products as of
American tariffs Competition higher quality and
on poultry and from: local safer than local
poultry products production, products.
M 72,263 42,191 3.98 will be eliminated Central eat within 18 years. American
Chicken leg countries and
qu arters are at Panama
0% with in quota.
Almost Importers are eager all U.S. Competition
to take full fresh fruits are from: Chile,
Fresh advantage of CAFTA- Fruit 84,922 23,899 1.25 tariff free, except Honduras,
DR and favor trading
for oranges (10 Ecuador and
yrs) Mex with U.S. exporters. ico
All U.S. Competition
vegetables are from: Chile and
tariff free, except Canada
Processed the following:
Fruit & 53,412 32,168 10.59 Frozen
Vegetables Vegetables (10
Dairy Under CAFTA-DR Costa Rica and
Products dairy products Nicaragua offer
(excl. will achieve free competitive
cheese) trade within 20 prices due to low
years. Duty-free transportation
TRQs expand at costs.
62 an annual ,587 6,718 4.47
compound rate of
5 percent. The
on dairy TRQs
remain at base
rates for years 1-
V. POST INFORMATION
If you need assistance exporting to Guatemala, please contact the U.S. Agricultural Affairs Office at
the following address:
Office of Agricultural Affairs
Avenida Reforma 7-01, Zona 10
Guatemala, Ciudad 01010
Tel: (502) 2332-4030
Fax: (502) 2331-8293
For more information on exporting U.S. agricultural products to other countries, please visit the
Foreign Agricultural Service home page: http://www.fas.usda.gov
VI. LIST OF MAJOR REGULATORY AGENCIES
Name: Licda. Gladys Arreola
Institution: Food Control Unit/Ministry of Health (MSPAS)
Address: 3 Calle final, 2-10 Zona 15. Valles de Vista Hermosa. Guatemala
Telefax: (502) 2369-8784 / 6
Name: Jorge Mario Gómez
Title: SPS Director
Institution: Norms and Regulations Unit/Ministry of Agriculture (MAGA)
Address: 7 Avenida 3-67 Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala
Telephone: (502) 2475-3058
Fax: (502) 2475-3058
Name: Dr. Julio Cabrera
Title: Director OIRSA-SEPA-SITC
Institution: Inter-Regional Organism for Plant and Animal Health/Ministry of Agriculture
Address: 21 Avenida 3-12, Zona 15, Guatemala
Telephone: (502) 2369-5900
Fax: (502) 2334-0646
Name: Lic. Alejandro Cutz
Title: CAFTA-DR Administrator
Institution: Foreign Commerce Administration Direction/Ministry of Economy
Address: 6 Avenida 10-43 Zona 1, Guatemala
Telephone: (502) 2412-0200
Name: Cristian Giron
Title: Director of Operations Unit
Institution: Superintendence of Tax Administration (SAT)/Customs Authority
Address: 7a Av. 3-73, Zona 9, Edificio Torre SAT, Guatemala City
Telephone: (502) 2329-7070, Ext. 1324
APPENDIX I STATISTICS
Table A. Key Trade and Demographic Information 2010
Agricultural, Fish & Forestry Imports from all countries (millions) / U.S. Market 2,064 /
Share (%) (46)
Consumer Oriented Agricultural Imports from all countries (millions) / U.S.
Market Share (%) 937 / (25)
Fish & Seafood Imports from all countries (millions) / U.S. Market Share (%)
Total Population (millions) / annual growth rate (%) 14 / (2.0)
Urban Population (millions) / annual growth rate (%) 3 / (3.5)
Number of metropolitan areas 38/1
Per Capita Gross Domestic Product (U.S. Dollars) 5,210
Real GDP growth (%) 2.6
Unemployment rate (%) 3.2
Per Capita Food Expenditures (U.S. Dollars) 456
Exchange Rate (US$1 = X.X local currency) Q7.82
1/ These are cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants
Source: Ministry of Economy
National Statistics Office
Central Bank of Guatemala
The World Fact Book
Table B. Consumer Food & Edible Fishery Product Import
Guatemala Imports Imports from the world Imports from the U.S. U.S. Market Share
Millions of $US Millions of U.S. Percent
2008 2009 2010 2008 2009 2010 2008 2009 2010
CONSUMER-ORIENTED 818 802 937 190 206 233 23% 26% 25%
Snack foods (excl. nuts) 77 71 74 9 8 9 11 12 13
Breakfast cereals & pancake mix 40 45 75 3 3 3 9 7 4
Red meats, fresh/chilled/frozen 28 27 32 15 16 27 54 60 84
Red meats, prepared/preserved 23 29 30 10 13 13 45 46 42
Poultry meat 39 45 51 31 38 42 80 85 83
Dairy products (excl. cheese) 108 90 106 8 5 7 8 5 6
Cheese 24 23 29 6 7 12 25 30 40
Eggs & products 2 5 4 0 3 2 34 57 54
Fresh fruit 38 36 42 19 22 24 51 60 57
Fresh vegetables 5 7 10 1 1 1 19 17 15
Processed fruit & vegetables 67 64 75 28 30 32 42 46 43
Fruit & vegetable juices 30 21 21 10 6 6 34 31 29
Tree nuts 2 1 2 1 0 0 57 61 43
Wine & beer 10 11 13 0 0 0 6 4 5
Nursery products & cut flowers 2 3 3 0 0 0 23 13 14
Pet foods (dog & cat) 11 11 13 6 6 7 50 52 54
Other consumer-oriented 311 314 355 40 47 45 13 15 13
FISH & SEAFOOD PRODUCTS 30 36 67 6 5 7 20 15 10
Salmon 0 0 2 0 0 1 44 59 86
Surimi 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Crustaceans 7 8 12 3 2 2 41 24 13
Groundfish & flatfish 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 57 28
Molluscs 1 1 1 0 0 0 56 58 67
Other fishery products 21 26 52 2 2 2 9 9 4
AG PRODUCTS TOTAL 1,997 1,700 1,942 957 785 920 48 46 47
AG FISH & FOREST TOTAL
2,083 1,782 2,064 969 801 940 46 45 45
Source: World Trade Atlas
Table C. Top 15 Exporters of Consumer-Oriented and Edible Fisheries
Consumer-Oriented Total (Thousands $US) Edible Fishery (Thousands $US)
2008 2009 2010 2008 2009 2010
United States 190,903 206,433 232,856 Panama 2,575 8,784 24,352
El Salvador 138,221 139,528 171,523 Nicaragua 3,273 3,823 15,064
Mexico 116,122 115,248 158,398 United States 6,200 5,512 6,596
Costa Rica 119,119 125,174 141,221 Costa Rica 4,674 4,701 5,750
Nicaragua 48,955 40,104 38,443 Ecuador 3,990 5,712 4,063
Honduras 30,345 35,924 35,293 Honduras 930 433 3,604
Chile 36,590 23,613 32,246 Thailand 3,283 2,734 3,113
New Zealand 17,462 15,181 15,124 Mexico 439 439 1,145
Netherlands 12,692 15,864 12,687 Colombia 795 624 792
China 8,159 6,554 11,355 El Salvador 547 400 535
Australia 21,810 12,142 10,885 Cote d Ivoire 0 0 532
Panama 17,016 11,522 9,645 Vietnam 588 569 456
Spain 8,085 8,291 8,672 India 153 0 341
Brazil 8,177 6,297 7,980 China 30 169 244
Colombia 6,094 6,273 6,832 Philippines 94 220 222
World 818,039 802,420 937,226 World 30,382 35,716 67,587
Source: World Trade Atlas