All sections of the Exporter Guide report have been revised, primarily to update economic data and import regulations.
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: GT1207
Henry Schmick, Regional
Edith Vasquez, Marketing
All sections of the Exporter Guide report have been revised, primarily to update economic data and
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 Q7.90 (Q=quetzal).
Guatemala's economy is dominated by the private sector, which generates about 85 percent of
total GDP. According to a study made by the National Statistics Institute in 2012, the
unemployment rate is at 2.9 percent a decrease from 2011 which reached 4.06 percent. The
informal economy accounts for 75 percent of the working force and it is estimated that almost 6.2
million people are currently working in Guatemala. Agriculture contributes directly 13 percent of
the GDP and accounts for 41 percent of total exports, industry accounts for 24 percent and
services reach more than 60 percent of the country’s GDP. 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 2011, the U.S. exports to Guatemala increased almost 14
percent from previous year. The U.S. exported US$1.04 million in agricultural, fish and forestry
products to Guatemala; these export levels are considered record U.S. export sales to Guatemala
according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census Trade Data. In CY 2011, much like previous years,
bulk commodities represented the largest export category with a 43 percent share of the total U.S.
agricultural exports to Guatemala; followed by intermediate and consumer-oriented products which
had a 30 percent share of U.S. exports. For the first three-quarters of 2012, trade reached almost
US$653 million which is 7 percent below for the same period in 2011.
Besides CAFTA-DR, Guatemala has a free trade agreement with Panama, Mexico, the Dominican
Republic, Peru, Taiwan, Colombia, Chile and European Union. In addition, it has partial free trade
agreements with Cuba, Belize and Venezuela, and is still negotiating an agreement with Canada.
B. Demographics and Income Distribution
Guatemala’s population is estimated at 14 million in 2011, with an annual growth of approximately
2 percent. The breakdown of the population follows the pattern of an underdeveloped country.
According to CIA World Fact Book more than half of the population is below the national poverty
line and 13 percent lives in extreme poverty. Poverty among indigenous groups, which make up 38
percent of the population, averages 73 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.
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.
C. Market Size
U.S. agricultural exports to Guatemala:
Total U.S. agricultural exports totaled US$1.04 billion in 2011.
Bulk commodities grew from US$311 million in 2007 to US$447 million in 2011.
Intermediate agricultural products grew from US$204 million in 2007 to US$313 million in
2011, an increase of 17 percent from 2010.
Consumer-oriented products increased from US$160 million in 2007 to US$273 million in
2011, an increase of 126 percent from 2010.
Seafood products increased from US$2 million in 2007 to US$4 million in 201.
Guatemalan agricultural exports to the U.S.:
• Total Guatemalan agricultural, fish and forestry exports US$1.9 billion.
• Bulk commodities exports US$767 million.
• Intermediate agricultural exports US$79 million.
• Consumer-oriented exports US$1.04 million.
• Seafood exports US$36 million.
Guatemala’s economy is the largest in Central America with a GDP estimated at $75 billion in
D. Advantages and Challenges in the Market
Guatemala is a trustworthy partner The economic condition of the country limits imports and
of the U.S. on trade issues. is targeted mainly to the wealthiest 10 percent of the
population who receives almost one-half of all income.
There exists a low cost Weakness to build confidence and improve the business
transportation of goods thanks to climate in Guatemala.
the proximity with the U.S. ports.
In Guatemala, there are around The tourism sector in Guatemala is large but security is a
14,000 restaurants and 2,500 concern and the local authorities have much to do to
hotels which demand quality improve their security programs.
products. This 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 one with the European Union (EU).
trading with U.S. exporters. These FTA’s force the U.S. to be more competitive.
The growing food processing There is limited infrastructure and distribution, especially
industry is looking for new and for perishable products.
better food ingredients for bakery,
deli meats, beverages and snacks.
CAFTA-DR gives an opportunity for A new customs law will be implemented in 2013 and
U.S. companies to introduce new there is uncertainty if new requirements for importing
products into the Guatemalan food products will be requested.
The Guatemalan Government Lack of a civil service career within the GOG, compliance
(GOG) maintains an open trading with international standards, makes regulatory structures
policy. fragile and problematic.
Guatemala is unable to meet Although in 2012, the Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture
domestic demand for cereals (corn, finally approved the FGIS/GIPSA/USDA certification as
rice) and meats. equivalent to the Guatemalan Food Safety Certification
for any product of plant origin certified by FGIS; now
there are some re-classifications to the HS codes applied
by the Customs Tax Administration (SAT) and importers
are now being required to pay taxes which were
exempted because of CAFTA-DR.
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 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 47 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 produced.
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:
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
"ventanilla unica" (“One-Stop Clearance Window”).
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. Customs 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” (“One-Stop Clearance 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
extremely difficult. Also it is also recommended that the local importer verifies with SAT the correct
Harmonized Tariff Code that applies to each of the imported product to avoid re-classification
problems and unnecessary detentions at port.
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
• 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 literally.
• 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 2012 at
III. MARKET SECTORS
A. Retail Sector
The retail sector in Guatemala is dominated by three supermarket chains: Pricesmart, Wal-Mart
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.
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
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 Del Barrio started its operations in 2007 and by the end of 2011, had already 20 stores.
The store offers daily discounts in food items and competes with the larger stores attracting
costumers that live in the nearby residential areas.
4) Supermercado Los Tiburoncitos is also a family owned business that started operations more
than 40 years ago and is still in business with four stores located in Guatemala City.
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 Centroamérica 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 210 sale units in five different
concept stores: Supertiendas Paiz (37), Walmarts (7), Despensa Familiar (145), ClubCo (2) and
Maxi Despensa (19). 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 hyper and Paiz’ stores.
UNISUPER is the second largest supermarket in Guatemala with 47 stores under the names of La
Torre (39) and Econosuper (8). For the past two years, UNISUPER has been remodeling its stores
and upgrading the Econosuper stores which are smaller and sell mostly domestically produced
products and very few imported items. Their main 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
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.
Going to the supermarkets is a family activity and therefore, marketing activities to
promote new products during the weekends occur more often than any other day of the
week. Many products are sampled during peak hours to motivate and attract consumers.
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 and glutten-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 shops, deli stores 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.
Antigua Guatemala is the tourism site closer to Guatemala City and has more than 150 hotels from
which 15 are boutique hotels. According to the Guatemalan Tourism Institute (INGUAT), close to
70 percent of the tourists that travel to Guatemala visit Antigua and in consequence it is
considered the most important tourism area in Guatemala.
INGUAT reported that income from the tourism sector in 2011 totaled US$1,350 million which
represents around 1.8 million tourists that visited Guatemala. Weather conditions, bad
infrastructure on the main roads to the tourism areas, security concerns and a slow economy
contributed to a decrease of -2 percent of income from this sector from the previous year. 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 2011 the highest number of travelers was from San Salvador totaling 542,316 followed by the
United States with 429,216visitors.
TOURISTS IN GUATEMALA BY NATIONALITY
NUMBER OF TOURISTS
COUNTRY 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
United States of America 370,740 409,771 423,000 499,357 517,830 429,216
Mexico and Canada 79,731 86,466 92,905 105,456 127,691 175,380
El Salvador 582,676 617,798 647,568 507,802 485,888 542,316
Other Central America countries 231,847 266,495 288,036 384,894 447,929 387,942
South America and West Indies 60,188 63,132 66,031 66,425 65,416 58,670
Europe 141,537 145,188 156,978 173,057 179.824 173,074
Other Countries 35,323 38,702 40,908 39,877 51,199 56,065
Total 1,502,069 1,627,552 1,715,426 1,776,868 1,696,133 1,822,663
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 in 2011,
sales totaled approximately US$2.1 million. The number of restaurants in 2011 had an increase of
14,600 units which represented a growth of 6.2 percent from 2010. 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
It is expected that by the end of 2012 at least 7 new franchises will be operating in the country.
The most popular types of fast-food in Guatemala are: hamburgers, pizzas, tacos and fried
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 2012 at
IV. BEST PRODUCT PROSPECTS
The following is a list of product categories with the best export potential for U.S. suppliers.
2011 5-Yr. 11 Avg. Key
ct Imports Annual Import Tariff Constraints
Ca Size tegory (US$ in Import Ra Attractiveness for te Over Market
Ton thousands) Growth Developmen
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 94,438 94,519 8.77 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.
American tariffs Competition
on poultry and from: local Guatemalans view
poultry products production, U.S. products as of
M 76,571 54,997 8.97 will be eliminated Central higher quality and eat within 18 years. American safer than local
Chicken leg countries and products.
quarters are at Panama
0% within quota.
All U.S. Competition
vegetables are from: Chile and
tar iff free, except Canada
Processed the following: Importers are eager
Fruit & 64,479 92,278 12.21 Frozen to take full
Vegetables Vegetables (10 advantage of
yrs); Mixed CAFTA-DR and favor
Vegetables (5 trading with U.S.
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 ,490 109,181 4.47
compound rate of
5 percent. The
on dairy TRQs
remain at base
rates for years 1-
Grains eliminates tariffs
on yellow corn
713 over ten years ,975 232,104 10.76
and receives a
190,509 MT duty-
free TRQ growing
by five percent
tariff on sorghum
is eliminated over
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: Lic. Guillermo Ortiz
Title: SPS Director
Institution: Norms and Regulations Unit/Ministry of Agriculture (MAGA)
Address: 7 Avenida 3-67 Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala
Telephone: (502) 2413-7000
Name: Dr. Julio Cabrera
Title: Director OIRSA-SEPA-SITC
Institution: Inter-Regional Organism for Plant and Animal Health
Address: 21 Avenida 3-12, Zona 15, Guatemala
Telephone: (502) 2500-9200
Fax: (502) 2500-9349
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: Lic. Osmar Telon
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
APPENDIX I STATISTICS
Table A. Key Trade and Demographic Information 2011
Agricultural, Fish & Forestry Imports from all countries (millions) / U.S. Market 2,476 /
Share (%) (23)
Consumer Oriented Agricultural Imports from all countries (millions) / U.S.
Market Share (%) 1,057 /
Fish & Seafood Imports from all countries (millions) / U.S. Market Share (%) 71/ (5)
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) 5,100
Real GDP growth (%) 3.8
Unemployment rate (%) 4.1
Exchange Rate (US$1 = X.X local currency) Q7.87
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
2009 2010 2011 2009 2010 2011 2009 2010 2011
CONSUMER-ORIENTED 802 937 1,057 206 233 280 26% 25% 26%
Snack foods (excl. nuts) 71 73 89 8 9 13 12 13 14
Breakfast cereals & pancake 45 75 69 3 3 4 7 4 5
Red meats, fresh/chilled/frozen 27 32 37 16 27 31 60 84 84
Red meats, prepared/preserved 29 30 33 13 13 15 46 42 46
Poultry meat 45 51 55 38 42 48 85 83 88
Dairy products (excl. cheese) 90 106 109 5 7 8 5 6 7
Cheese 23 29 34 7 12 14 30 40 40
Eggs & products 5 4 6 3 2 5 57 54 83
Fresh fruit 36 42 44 22 24 25 60 57 58
Fresh vegetables 7 10 10 1 1 1 17 15 12
Processed fruit & vegetables 64 75 92 30 32 41 46 43 44
Fruit & vegetable juices 21 21 23 6 6 7 31 29 30
Tree nuts 1 2 3 0 0 1 61 43 68
Wine & beer 11 13 16 0 0 1 4 5 8
Nursery products & cut flowers 3 3 3 0 0 0 13 14 12
Pet foods (dog & cat) 11 13 15 6 7 6 52 54 45
Other consumer-oriented 314 355 418 47 45 58 15 13 14
FISH & SEAFOOD PRODUCTS 36 67 72 5 7 7 15 10 10
Salmon 0 2 0 0 1 0 59 86 71
Surimi 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Crustaceans 8 12 19 2 2 2 24 13 9
Groundfish & flatfish 0 0 0 0 0 0 57 28 21
Molluscs 1 1 1 0 0 1 58 67 75
Other fishery products 26 52 50 2 2 3 9 4 7
AG PRODUCTS TOTAL 1,700 1,942 2,345 785 920 1,147 46 47 49
AG FISH & FOREST TOTAL
1,782 2,064 2,476 801 940 1,161 45 45 47
Source: World Trade Atlas
Table C. Top 15 Exporters of Consumer-Oriented and Edible Fisheries
Consumer-Oriented Total (Thousands $US) Edible Fishery (Thousands $US)
2009 20010 2011 2009 2010 2011
United States 206,433 232,856 280,843 Ecuador 5,712 4,063 17,650
El Salvador 139,528 171,523 187,712 Mexico 439 1,145 13,367
Mexico 115,248 158,398 172,398 Panama 8,783 24,352 13,176
Costa Rica 125,174 141,221 152,413 Costa Rica 4,701 5,750 7,489
Honduras 35,924 35,293 42,546 United States 5,512 6,596 6,943
Nicaragua 40,104 38,443 38,621 Nicaragua 3,823 15,064 3,985
Chile 23,613 32,246 36,531 Thailand 2,734 3,113 3,373
New Zealand 15,181 15,124 17.090 Honduras 433 3,604 2,256
Netherlands 15,864 12,687 13,195 Colombia 624 792 1,143
Australia 12,142 10,885 12,897 China 169 244 695
China 6,554 11,355 12,080 El Salvador 400 535 658
Spain 8,291 8,672 9,687 Vietnam 569 456 430
Panama 11,522 9,645 8,859 Spain 226 184 202
Germany 5,504 6,388 8,852 Peru 0 121 135
Brazil 6,297 7,980 8,223 France 0 0 133
World 802,420 937,226 1,057,959 World 35,716 67,587 71,856
Source: World Trade Atlas