In November 2019 we visited our Mexican chia supplier in Jalisco. The new crop looks very healthy and has an estimated volume of approx. 8000mt, which is a 20% increase compared to last year. The average yield is 800 kg/hectare. The advantage of Mexican chia is the favorable climate and high altitude. It’s less humid compared to South America, which results in less insects and molds. It also has higher oil content because the plant produces more oils to protect against high altitude chilly nights, so this translates to higher omega 3’s and over all percentage of oils.
First containers of the new crop can be shipped in about 2-3 weeks. Please consult your sales manager for a quotation.
Demand for chia has slowed down over the past few months and prices have dropped significantly. Many markets are still well-stocked. Supplies at origin are still available in good volumes. The Mexican harvest has now started, so more product will become available. The chia harvests in Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina were good this year. Bolivia has had some difficulties to ship out product due to the unrest over the presidential elections, which had put a halt to exports. Exporters had to delay their shipments. Also, yields in Paraguay were reported as rather low and some believe that the volume of product still held by growers in Paraguay is overestimated. That would mean that once demand returns to normal levels in the new year, prices would stabilize or even rise as we approach the new harvest (starting in July).
Although the differential between organic and conventional has narrowed, exporters are reluctant to sell organic product as conventional. They prefer to wait until demand for organic recovers. December and January are usually very weak months in the business.
Mexico has adjusted its prices but there is still a price gap between Mexican and South American chia. Mexico won’t be able to follow the declining prices, as farming and labour costs are higher in Mexico and farmers would switch to more profitable crops. According to exporters, the chia market could not develop its entire potential if it continues operating under this range of prices for long. Chia farmers could grow more interest in other crops and supply could become irregular in the long term.