Mexico’s Sigma Alimentos has announced that it is investing US$39m in plant expansion and modernization during 2000. The expansion is being undertaken with the support of Sigma’s parent industrial group, Grupo Alfa. The facility upgrades are justified by anticipated sales increases in Mexico and the US. The investment will primarily boost production of the company’s cold meat and cheese brands.

 Mexico is one of Latin America’s strongest cheese markets with consumption of between 250 and 300 thousand tons per annum. Cheese sales are valued at US$1bn per annum. Cheese sales are expected to increase over the next few years as economic recovery boosts Mexican consumer power. At present, Sigma has a 4% share of the cheese market. That share is significant considering that the Mexican cheese sector is highly fragmented with 40 competing companies.

 The plant expansion will allow Sigma to increase its cold meat production by 15%. At present, it produces 320 thousand tons per annum. In all, the company will dedicate US$10m to expanding its meat production facilities.

 Sigma was the first Mexican producer of cold meats to secure FDA certification and has taken a lead in foreign sales. At present, the company exports to the states of Texas, Illinois, and Florida. Sigma’s United States sales are valued at US$2m per annum and that amount is expected to triple over the next few years.

 By Steve Lewis, correspondent