Argentina is the main producer and exporter of yerba mate in the world. In 2019, 837 million kg of green leaves were harvested in the producing area formed by the northeast of the province of Corrientes and the entire territory of the province of Misiones. As a result, almost 40 million kilos of yerba mate were exported.
Thus, Argentina became the first country to export the product, followed by Brazil with 36 million, according to figures from the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade.
As regards the processed and packaged yerba mate allocated to domestic consumption, official figures indicate that from January to December 2019, 277 million kilos were sent to supermarkets and wholesalers throughout Argentina.
Thirty nine million kilograms were exported during 2019. The main destinations were Syria, Lebanon, USA and Spain (these are the 5 countries with the greatest export volume) Yerba mate was also exported to other countries to a lesser extent.
The National Institute of the Yerba Mate (INYM) is the government agency in charge of promoting yerba mate consumption in Argentina. This official institution has devised a Strategic Plan for the Yerba Mate sector from which two broad courses of action have stemmed aiming at developing new markets for the yerba mate. One course of action is oriented to positioning the Yerba Mate as an exportable Argentine product. The other fosters the creation of programmes to enable companies to export the product.
Syria was the main destination for Yerba Mate exports during 2019 (31 million kilograms) followed by Chile and Lebanon.
We can trace the answer back to the 1850’s and 1860’s. It was during this period of time that the Syrian people arrived in Argentina and fell in love with the habit of drinking mate.
As they returned to their country, they took the Argentine mate with them and incorporated the habit of drinking mate to their everyday lives. The habit became so rooted that many people in neighbouring regions believe that drinking mate is a Middle East tradition.
China is undoubtedly an export destination to be conquered due to the size of its population and its millenary tradition as consumers of infusions like tea.
It took the INYM and Yerba mate companies 15 years of negotiations to get a foothold in the Chinese market.
In China, the Yerba Mate is mostly used to prepare infusions. The main sales channel is the electronic one: Alibabá, the asiatic Amazon.
Chile is the main destination in Latin America. It is the second most important market, with 4.4 million kilos exported in 2019.
The tradition of drinking mate is strong in the south and has spread northward. The Chilean people love mate for its health benefits, its natural origin and its mystique.
Argentine Yerba Mate is also exported to such countries as France, Spain, Germany and Italy.