A long-awaited decision from Mexico’s Supreme Court was announced last week, opening market access for U.S. potatoes. The unanimous vote of five to zero overturns a 2017 decision that prevented full access for American potatoes that was agreed to in various trade agreements. Groups including the National Potato Council (NPC) and Potatoes USA announced their appreciation for the decision.
“This ruling is consistent with Mexico’s obligations under the USMCA and the WTO. It represents a major step forward in the U.S. potato industry’s efforts to provide consumers throughout Mexico access to fresh, healthy U.S.-grown potatoes,” NPC Vice President of Trade Affairs Jared Balcom said in a press release. “After decades of delay, we hope this ruling represents a light at the end of the tunnel and that Mexican regulators will immediately begin working on regulations to allow for the importation of fresh U.S. potatoes throughout their country.”
The U.S. potato industry has been working to eliminate trade restrictions for decades, which only allowed imports of U.S. potatoes within 26 kilometers of the U.S.-Mexico border. After a trade agreement to allow full access was reached, Mexico’s potato farmers filed lawsuits to prevent its implementation. Despite the limited market access that U.S. potatoes had in Mexico, American exports of fresh potatoes totaled $60 million in 2020. Industry members believe that full access to Mexico will provide a market potential of $200 million annually within five years.
“Mexico offers a significant opportunity for U.S. potato growers,” said John Toaspern, Chief Marketing Officer at Potatoes USA. “The U.S. can supply a wide variety of fresh high-quality potatoes to Mexico, russets, reds, yellows, whites, fingerlings and chipping potatoes year-round that are not currently produced there. Mexican retailers, foodservice operators, food manufactures and ultimately Mexican consumers will benefit from this wide array of high-quality potatoes available year-round.”