The Super Bowl Without NAFTA? Not So Super.

Feb 02, 2018 - 9:15am

Senior Editor, Strategic Communications

Nothing brings Americans together like the Super Bowl. Nineteen of the top 20 American television broadcasts have been for the big game. And this year, more than 100 million Americans will host and attend parties, gather around big screen TVs, yell, snark at the commercials, and above all stuff their faces with more food than almost any other day the year.

Make no mistake, football is America’s game, and the Super Bowl oozes red, white and blue. However, like the Super Bowl’s viewership (160 million people in more than 25 countries), the Super Bowl experience has increasingly gone global. 

As an example of just how global football has become, when your fearless U.S. Chamber team traveled to Mexico City in late November to represent U.S. business interests in the negotiations, they found themselves staying in … the same hotel as the New England Patriots—in town to play the Oakland Raiders. Mexico City was mad with football fever.

As you watch the game this Sunday, look around your party, and you’ll see that many of our staples now come from beyond our borders, most notably Mexico and Canada. Without the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which underpins our trading relationship with our two neighbors, Super Bowl Sunday would never be the same.  Here are a few examples.

TVs

I don’t know about you, but I put televisions fairly high on the list of importance when it comes to experiencing the Super Bowl. Not many of us can fork out $4,000 for a ticket to the spectacle, and even if we could, U.S. Bank Stadium doesn’t have the capacity for all of us. Our neighbors to the south play an important role here. Every year, U.S. consumers buy more than 40 million flat-screen TVs, according to the Wall Street Journal. And as many as three-quarters of them are assembled in factories in Mexico. Our trading relationship with Mexico has helped bring down the price of televisions dramatically for American consumers.

Guacamole

Americans are expected to eat some 139 million pounds of avocados in the run-up to and on this year’s Super Bowl Sunday, up 13% from 2015, and of course, most of that will come in the form of guacamole. No surprised there, as we obviously need something to dip the 11.2 million pounds of chips that we’re planning to eat. In 2014, 85% of the 4.25 billion avocados Americans consumed were imported from outside our borders, most of them coming from Mexico, which means we’ll consume nearly 139 million pounds of Mexican avocados while we’re watching the big game, according to the California Avocado Commission.

Sure, maybe it’s possible to enjoy the Super Bowl without guacamole. Maybe. And maybe it’s possible to enjoy going sledding without a sled. It’s possible, but not advised. 

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Thanks in part to NAFTA, Americans consumer twice as much fresh fruit and three times as many fresh vegetables from both Mexico and Canada as we did two decades ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That means greenhouse tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers coming down by truck from Canada. Or mounds of seasonal fruit coming up from Mexico.

Beer

Yes, beer.

From Dos Equis to Corona to Modelo Especial, the U.S. imports $2.8 billion worth of beer from Mexico, according to research by the United Nations, making beer the 15th most popular import. Tariffs on the beer could rise as much as 20% if NAFTA is ended, which would make some of our nation’s favorite brews much more expensive. And that’s just the consumption side.

Mexican beer production helps fuel American jobs and the country is heavily dependent on American ingredients, especially grain. More than half of the barley and hops exported from American farms goes to Mexico.

Do you know what it takes to get a Corona from Mexico to the U.S.? A complex, coordinated, cross-border supply network that very few people want to think about when sipping on a cold one on Sunday. They’ll want to know even less about it if they have to pay more with leaner earnings.

Bacon

Do we need to talk about bacon? Of course, we do. Because few things are more American than being able to put bacon on anything we want, and a Google search for “Super Bowl Bacon Recipes” turns up more than 9 million results.

Today, 15% of pigs born in Canada are “feeder pigs” that are shipped to American farms in the American Midwest, where they’re raised and ultimately sold as edible cuts like bacon in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.  In 2016, Canada shipped nearly 5 million pigs into the United States. Without NAFTA, we’ll have to pay more the sprinkle bacon on potatoes, or chips, or cookies, or whatever else we want. 

Salt

Chip? Check. Dips? Check. Salsa? Check. What do they all have in common? Salt.

A sometimes underappreciated yet crucial ingredient to Super Bowl culinary success that we can thank our northern neighbors for is salt. The U.S. imports nearly 12 million tons of salt for consumption every year (valued at roughly $358 million), 5 million tons and $150 million worth of which comes from Canada.

The Bottom Line

Our country depends on trade, and so does our biggest night in sports. Without our neighbors in Canada and Mexico, and without NAFTA, Super Bowl Sunday wouldn’t be the same – or at least, it would cost a lot more to enjoy the game and festivities. So as you sit down to watch the Patriots and Eagles duke it out this Sunday, let’s dip one nacho, toast one beer, and put bacon on something else in honor of our economic partnership with our neighbors to the north and south. 

About the Author

About the Author

Cordell Eddings
Senior Editor, Strategic Communications

Cordell is a senior editor and content strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's strategic communications team.