MEXICO CITY, MEXICO — Because domestic wheat production continues to be inefficient to supply the domestic demand of the flour milling industry, Mexico will import approximately 5.5 million tonnes of wheat in 2018-19, 5.7% more than the previous year, according to a March 21 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The report said wheat consumption in Mexico is expected to grow approximately 2% in 2018, driven by population growth and the continuing popularity of bread products, as well as interest in creating new wheat-based products with added value, new product presentations, and technological innovation.

The Mexican Millers Association said that even though there are more alternative products available, such as cornbread and bread made with potatoes and other cereals, increases in consumption of wheat flour, bread, cookies and pasta are expected.

The report noted that although historically Mexican consumers have preferred corn tortillas over bread, this trend has gradually reversed in the last few years due to the relative improvement in consumer purchasing power and the higher price of corn tortillas.

Mexican wheat production for 2018-19 is forecast to decrease to approximately 3.27 million tonnes as wheat producers in the Yaqui Valley in Sonora decided to reduce wheat planted area by 20%, citing market conditions and the lack of water availability.