November 23, 2020 IMPORTANT: Front-of-Package Changes for Products Exported to Mexico (NOM-051)
Further to the previous update of October 8, 2020 below, Mexico’s Ministry of Economy (ECONOMIA) has confirmed the procedures that Mexican importers and customs brokers must now follow in order to exempt imported agri-food products not for retail sale (bulk, raw materials/ingredients for further processing, inputs for food service/restaurants) from Mexican labelling requirements for pre-packaged foods and non-alcoholic beverages for retail sale (NOM-051).
In our previous update, we informed you that as of October 1, 2020, ECONOMIA is no longer allowing Mexican companies importing food products not for retail sale to present a letter under oath (an exemption letter) to customs authorities in order to exempt these imported food products from the labelling requirements of NOM-051.
We also reported that Mexican importers and customs brokers had reported using alternative measures to exempt imported food products not for retail sale from the requirements of NOM-051, including special coding for the “PEDIMENTO” – an official document that is presented at Mexican Customs for importing a shipment.
On October 26, 2020, ECONOMIA published official criteria confirming that food products in bulk or for processing, wholesale and/or foodservice purposes are exempt from the labelling provisions of NOM-051 as these products are not destined for retail sale and therefore outside the scope of the NOM-051 labelling requirements.
These official documents from ECONOMIA also confirm that Mexican importers of agri-food products not for retail sale now have to include an identification code in the PEDIMENTO to indicated that these imported products are not subject to NOM-051. (Mexican customs brokers should help importers to include the correct code when filling out the PEDIMENTO.)
Further details are available in the official documents published by ECONOMIA (in Spanish only.) You will find hyperlinks to these documents in the table below:
Recommended Actions by Canadian Exporters:
We would encourage all Canadian exporters of non-retail sale food shipments to Mexico to share these documents with their Mexican importers or customs brokers to ensure that they are aware of the new procedures for requesting exemptions for these imported food products from the labeling requirements of NOM-051. While the onus is on the Mexican importer to conduct these procedures, it is in the best interest of Canadian exporters to ensure their Mexican partners are aware of these documents to avoid potential issues with shipments.
Canadian exporters experiencing challenges related to this or other matters are encouraged to contact the Canadian Embassy in Mexico. (The names and contact information of key agri-food contacts at the Canadian Embassy are included in our October 8 message below.)
October 8, 2020 – Relevant changes related to the exemption from complying with the Mexican labelling standard: NOM-051 for products imported in bulk or for processing/foodservice and not intended for retail sale:
This message is to inform you that as of 1 October 2020, the Mexican Ministry of Economy is no longer allowing the use of “exemption letters” to request that food products imported in bulk or for processing, wholesale or foodservice purposes (i.e. not for retail sale) be exempted from compliance with Mexican Official Standard NOM-051, which is related to labelling of pre-packaged foods and non-alcoholic beverages for retail sale.
This change, which caught the Mexican industry by surprise, stems from modifications published by the Mexican Ministry of Economy to its General Rules and Criteria for Foreign Trade Operations. As part of the changes, the Ministry of Economy removed the provision that allowed Mexican companies importing food products in bulk or for processing/foodservice/wholesale purposes to present a letter under oath requesting that the products be exempted from compliance with the Mexican Official Standard NOM-051, since the products are not intended for retail sale directly to consumers. We understand that this change was implemented following what was considered as abuses in the use of these exemption letters when importing products that were not complying with NOM-051, but were in reality being sold at retail once imported.
While the use of “exemption letters” is no longer permitted, the Ministry of Economy indicated to the Mexican industry that there are some “Exemptions of Compliance with NOM-051” that Mexican customs brokers can still use when conducting the import process for products imported in bulk or for processing/foodservice/wholesale purposes (not for direct retail sale). The Ministry of Economy explained to the Mexican industry that in order to make use of these compliance exemptions, when filling out the official document to be presented at Mexican customs for importing a shipment (called PEDIMENTO in Spanish), the customs broker needs to include the corresponding “Code” in the PEDIMENTO, to indicate that the product should be exempted from complying with NOM-051 because it is not intended for direct retail sale. Mexican importers have indicated to the Embassy that they have already started to use this provision, and are also attaching a letter to the PEDIMENTO, justifying why the product does not need to comply with NOM-051 (i.e. imported in bulk for processing or for foodservice purposes).
Industry contacts also indicated to the Embassy that another option they are using is to request from a private verification unit authorized to verify compliance of NOM-051, to issue a “Certificate of Non-Application of NOM-051” (CONSTANCIA DE NO APLICACION DE LA NOM-051) for the products, which is then attached to the PEDIMENTO. Mexican industry contacts recommended that companies should evaluate what is the best option on a case by case basis. Industry contacts also indicated that when required, Mexican authorities are providing the option of re-labelling products in a fiscal warehouse at the point of entry or in warehouses inside Mexico, under the supervision of the authority or an authorized private verification unit
When shipping products in bulk or for processing, wholesale or foodservice purposes, the Embassy recommends that Canadian exporters work closely with their Mexican importers to define the best available strategy to demonstrate to Mexican authorities that the product is not required to comply with NOM-051 as it is not intended for retail sale directly to consumers.
Please do not hesitate to contact Alejandro Ruiz (Alejandro.Ruiz@international.gc.ca) or Jennifer Rodrigue Jennifer.Rodrigue@international.gc.ca if you have any questions.