The region's economic trajectory remains divergent. Despite our expectations for slower real GDP growth in Panama in the next several years, it will remain the regional outperformer. On the other hand, we have a more mixed outlook for growth in the 'northern triangle' countries, with Guatemala likely to fare better than Honduras and El Salvador.
Headline Industry Data (regional averages)
- 2013 per capita food consumption (US$) = +3.35%; forecast compound annual growth rate (CAGR) 2014 to 2018 = +4.18%.
- 2013 alcoholic drink sales (litres) = +4.38%; forecast CAGR 2014 to 2018 = +2.30%.
- 2013 soft drink sales (litres) = +5.25%; forecast CAGR 2014 to 2018 = +2.71%.
- 2013 MGR sales (US$) = +4.43%; forecast CAGR 2014 to 2018 = +5.19%.
Key Company Trends
AmBev Expands In Guatemala: Drinks giant AmBev has announced a US$100mn investment in its Guatemalan infrastructure over the next three years. According to company officials, the investment is down to the ongoing growth potential of the Guatemalan drinks market as well as healthy growth in the sector in recent years. The investment will allow for greater innovation in the drinks market including the launch of new products and packaging.
Walmart Consolidates In Central America: In early 2014 retail giant Walmart announced that it is to invest MXN15bn in its Mexican and Central American operations in a bid to increase sales floor area and upgrade e-commerce technology. In Mexico, sales floor is expected to increase by 5% while in Central America it is expected to increase by 7.6%, signifying that the retailer's presence is to grow more substantially in Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua than in its traditional heartland of Mexico.
Key Risks To Outlook
Central America will remain heavily dependent on the performance of the US economy, which continues to be a major source for remittance flows and a destination for goods exports. The US accounts for over onethird of total exports in every country in Central America except Panama. While our Agribusiness team believes stronger US consumer demand is unlikely to bolster coffee exports, given saturated market dynamics, rising household consumption and a stronger US dollar there is likely to be an increase in demand for textiles and other goods, with the benefits trickling down through other parts of the economy.