In the early 1980s, the cattle industry appeared to
potential to be an important part of the Honduran economy.
Honduran cattle sector, however, never developed to the
it did in much of the rest of Central America. Cattle
grew steadily until 1980-81 but then declined sharply when
fell because of high production costs. The small Honduran
packing industry declined at the same time, and several
packing plants closed. As late as 1987, livestock composed
percent of the value-added agricultural sector but the
continued to decline. By 1991-92, beef exports accounted
2.9 percent of the value of total exports.
Sales of refrigerated meat were the third or fourth
source of export earnings in the mid-1980s, but like other
agricultural products, beef yields were among the lowest
America. As world prices fell and production costs,
drought, rose, there was less incentive to raise cattle.
period of time, cattle farmers illegally smuggled beef
Guatemala and other neighboring countries where prices
but the Honduran cattle sector never became competitive
internationally. The two large banana companies have also
large cattle ranches where they raised prime beef, but
companies had the flexibility to change crops as the
Honduran dairy herds fared about the same as beef
Honduran milk yields were also among the lowest in Central
The dairy industry was further handicapped by the
trying to transport milk over poor roads in a tropical
well as by stiff competition in the domestic market from
foreign imports, mostly from the United States.
Data as of December 1993