The production of tequila is a success story of the Mexican agribusiness, since in the last fifteen years it has managed to become one of the five most exported products in Mexico, but now, its ‘younger brother’ mezcal, will seek greater prominence within of the agave-derived spirits market.
Currently, eight out of 10 bottles of beverages made with agave contain tequila, while only two correspond to mezcal, according to the Consulting Group of Agricultural Markets (GCMA).
Rodrigo Muñoz, general manager of the mezcal company The Lost Explorer, said in an interview that the main challenge for mezcal producers will be to change the perception of consumers about this product.
“A decade ago, tequila was mixed with beer in bars in the United States, and now it is considered a high-altitude drink with a note, if 10 years ago it was the time for tequila, now it is for mezcal, we want to turn it into a drink with depth that generates sensations for the foreign market ”, he pointed out.
The success of spirits derived from agave has generated that various celebrities launch their own brand, as is the case of Luis Gerardo Méndez, with his mezcal called ‘Ojo de Tigre’; Adam Levine with his bottle named ‘Santo Mezquila’, and the protagonists of the Breaking Ban series (Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul) with their mezcal ‘Dos Hombres’.
For the manager of The Lost Explorer, foreign competition in products that have a designation of origin does not represent a threat, on the contrary, it puts mezcal on the international map.
“The attention that tequila and mezcal have generated means that Mexico is the spearhead in spirits, the more competition there is, it forces us to be better and offer higher quality products,” he said.
Oaxaca wins battle in the ‘war’ for the Designation of Origin of mezcal
He added that although mezcal consumers are very fragmented, millennials who are between 30 and 40 years old are a very attractive niche for these drinks, since through market studies they have observed that they like to enjoy different, personalized and authentic things.
Greater demand has generated an increase in agave production
Between 2015 and 2020, the price of agave increased almost five times, going from 4,500 pesos per ton in 2015 to a record of 30,000 pesos per ton in May 2020.
The high prices registered by the product placed it as the one with the highest income per hectare in 2018 and the second in 2019, surpassed only by strawberries, according to the ranking published annually by GCMA.
The strong demand for agave-based spirits (tequila and mezcal), both in the national and international markets, will allow the continuous increase in the planted area and production, in addition, Mexico has the designation of origin of tequila and mezcal, granting it the advantage of being the only supplier of these beverages in the market ”, indicated GCMA.
According to the Mezcal Regulatory Council (CRM), this drink can only be produced in Oaxaca, Guanajuato, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Zacatecas, Michoacán, Puebla and Guerrero, since they are the only entities that have the denomination originally.
In 2020, 75.5 percent of the mezcal destined for the export market was packaged in Oaxaca.
Mexico exports 313 brands of mezcal to 72 countries around the world, and the main destinations include the United States, Spain, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands.
Mezcal generates more than 23,000 direct jobs and more than 105,000 indirect jobs, according to the CRM.