Compiled By John S. McClenahen The demographics of Latin America literally are food for thought at the Grocery Manufacturers of America Inc. (GMA), which is strongly supporting the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). "While the U.S. and Canada have largely stable and aging populations, Latin America has a growing and relatively young population," relates Sarah A. Fogarty, Washington-based GMA's director for international trade. "As a result, more food is demanded on a per capita basis in Latin America because of a younger population with higher caloric requirements and a propensity for purchasing non-traditional food." She stops short of projecting specific export growth numbers for U.S. food and beverage producers under an FTAA. But Fogarty says that between NAFTA's implementation in 1994 and last year, U.S. exports of processed food products to Canada and Mexico nearly doubled, growing from about $3.6 billion annually to more than $6 billion. Exports are only half of the story for the GMA, however. Fogarty notes the import duty for off-cycle cucumbers (those grown during the five months the U.S. does not produce cucumbers) went to zero on the day NAFTA took effect, providing U.S. producers of refrigerated pickles with new sources and cost savings that could be channeled into new product development -- all while holding down off-season prices for consumers. "We are hopeful that we will see the same kind of results from an even more comprehensive FTAA," says Fogarty.