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USCG Commits to Mexican Brewing Sector

Delegation representing U.S. barley and malt industry from Montana and North Dakota traveled to Mexico

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The interconnectedness of barley and beer is so iconic, the relationship has its own bumper sticker. And for U.S. barley farmers, no market is more important to keep growing than Mexico’s brewing sector, which is why a delegation from Montana and North Dakota recently traveled to Mexico to meet with large brewing companies and craft brewers alike.

Montana Lieutenant Governor Mike Cooney and Montana Director of Agriculture Ben Thomas participated in the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) mission in October in addition to staff and representatives from the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee and the North Dakota Barley Council. The delegation met with craft brewers and large brewing company customers before attending the Expo Cerveza conference.

“This goodwill mission showed appreciation to our customers for their business," says Javier Chavez, USGC marketing specialist in Mexico. "The visit also helped our members learn about continued growth in the Mexican brewing sector as well as the competitive market challenges that lay ahead.”

Total Mexican beer sales are valued at more than $20 billion each year, rising sharply due to higher exports to markets like the United States. More than half of the malted barley imported by Mexico to brew that beer originates in Montana and the state has opened its doors to Mexican brewers looking to build supply chain relationships within the state. The USGC delegation visited one such brewer who has greatly expanded business after traveling to Montana and working with the Council’s staff in Mexico.

José Luís Calderoni founded Propaganda Brewing in 2012 in a garage, producing three barrels of beer a month. Today, after participating in Council missions to Montana and other barley-producing states and USGC engagement, the company has grown into one of the largest craft breweries in northeastern Mexico, producing 300 barrels of beer a month. Propaganda not only brews their own beer, which is sold through major retailers across Mexico, but also exports beer to the United Kingdom and contract brews for other national brands.

“‘Joe,’ as we know him, came to Montana in 2014 as part of a USGC barley mission,” Chavez says. “He took advantage of the contacts made during that trip to build his business and even become a malt distributor, eventually founding another company with his brother specifically to market malt.”

Following company visits, the mission traveled to Expo Cerveza, the largest craft brewers expo in Mexico, where Lt. Governor Cooney cut the ribbon to officially open the event. More than 150 producers, importers, beer exporters and input suppliers exhibited during the event, now in its ninth year.

The event allows brewers, associations and suppliers to share their experiences with beer, discuss the current state of the industry and address common issues related to production and business models. The USGC delegation visited with craft brewers and importers to learn more about the market, plans for growth and how U.S. suppliers can meet that increased demand.

“Through in-person discussions and participating in Expo Cerveza, the delegation reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to staying a reliable supplier of high-quality barley and the desire to continue strengthening relationships,” Chavez says.

Read the full report here.

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