Guatemala flag Guatemala: Buying and Selling

The distribution network in Guatemala

Evolution of the Sector
Economic activity is concentrated around the capital Guatemala City and to a lesser extent around the cities of Quezaltenango, Puerto Barrios, Huehuetenango, Totonicapán, Escuintla and Antigua.   Guatemalans spend more than 50% of their income on food purchases. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE) the basic food basket in 2016 cost $492 per month. The basic food basket includes: vegetables (tomatoes, onions, squash, potatoes, green beans); corn tortillas, black beans, rice, coffee, sugar, and dairy products (cheese and sour cream.)
The retail sector in Guatemala is dominated by three supermarket chains: Pricesmart, Wal-Mart Mexico y Centroamérica, and Unisuper (La Torre/Econosuper.) These supermarkets target middle and high income consumers; however, the two largest supermarket chains—Walmart and Unisuper—also have stores that service the lower-middle to lower income consumers. The three largest supermarket chains in Guatemala have a regional office that imports/distributes products within their stores in Central America. Importers work directly with brokers to lower the costs of transportation and prefer brokers, most of them located in Miami. In the past (before Walmart was present in the country), supermarkets relied on local importers to display imported products; now, supermarkets prefer to import directly but through their holding groups, especially during peak seasons.

There are still ample opportunities for growth in the retail sector since only 30% of total food sales are made through supermarkets.
Market share
There are three main retailers operating in Guatemala:
- Walmart Mexico y Centroamérica is Guatemala’s largest supermarket chain. Total stores in Guatemala were 218 in 2017: Supertiendas Paiz (28), Walmart (9), Despensa Familiar (152), and Maxi Despensa (29)
- Unisuper is the second largest supermarket in Guatemala with 73 stores under the names of La Torre (65) and Econosuper (8).
- Pricesmart, a U.S. warehouse company that operates membership club stores in Latin America, and the Caribbean. In Guatemala, there are only 3 membership stores located in Guatemala City and Fraijanes. Pricesmart is the only membership club in Guatemala.

There are other smaller supermarkets in the country that are trying to gain market share in the retail sector, but these supermarkets are more targeted to the lower-middle and lower income consumers. They are smaller than a regular supermarket and in consequence have smaller shelf space to display their products. These supermarkets are:
- Super Elmar, S.A. is a family-owned company and has eight stores within Guatemala City
- Comercializadora Gigante, S.A., also known as La Barata, has 17 stores which are mainly located nearby the open-air markets within Guatemala City and its surrounding areas such as Mixco, Villa Nueva and Amatitlan.
- Super Del Barrio started its operations in 2007 and presently has 18 stores.
Retail Sector Organisations
American Chamber of Commerce in Guatemala
Guatemala Chamber of Commerce
Ministry of Economy Guatemala

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Latest Update: July 2022

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