Will South Texas surpass Nogales, Az with imports of fresh produce from Mexico n a year?
Mexican fresh produce imports entering the U.S. through the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas increased 21 percent from 2014 to 2015, and 108 percent over the past eight years. And Pharr, Tx, will likely surpass Nogales, as the busiest U.S. port of entry late this year or in early 2017.
These are some highlights of a recent study of USDA data by Texas A&M University’s Center for North American Studies.
By comparison, Arizona crossings were up 13 percent and California crossings 12 percent from 2014 to 2015.
Over the past eight years, Arizona crossings are up 31 percent, California’s 50 percent.
In 2015, about 210,000 Mexican produce loads crossed through Texas, 147,000 loads through Arizona and 65,000 loads through California. Crossings at some Texas ports were particularly high in 2015. Imports through Pharr rose 36 percent, imports through Laredo 22 percent.
The big jump over the past eight years, meanwhile, can be attributed to a number of factors: improvements in Mexican infrastructure and highways; lower production in the U.S. (due to labor, water and other issues), higher U.S. demand for fresh produce; the Mexican government’s investment in the country’s produce industry; and U.S. shippers’ investment in Mexican production.
“Importers and distributors have been business savvy in shifting volumes to Texas to be in position to take advantage of the time and cost savings for delivery to Midwest and East Coast markets when coming through Texas,” said Bret Erickson, president and CEO of the Texas International Produce Association, in Mission, Tx.
The biggest highway improvements in Mexico is the 143-mile Autopista Durango-Mazatlan, which connects the growing regions of west Mexico to McAllen, Tx. The new highway opened in 2013.
The surge in Texas crossings has meant more Nogales-area distributors building facilities in Texas, as well as new companies opening up shop near Texas ports.
More infrastructure is needed, handle the bigger loads in South Texas. There’s also are complaints that produce warehouses there need to become more efficient in having loads ready for trucks that arrive on schedule for pick ups.
Shipments of many Mexican fruits and vegetables through Texas have increased significantly in recent years, but none more than avocados. Tomatoes are the volume leader, but avocados are now the second-largest commodity in terms of volume.
In 2015, 1.69 billion pounds of Mexican avocados were imported through Texas ports and were the top commodity coming through Pharr in seven months of 2015.
Texas isn’t the only U.S. state benefiting from increased production in Mexico. .
“For the Mexican produce industry, the growth in the import numbers across all states is impressive. With the sustained drought problems in the Western U.S., we expect to see even more growth in Mexico in the coming years, which should mean even more produce will be imported through west Mexico into Nogales,” said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Nogales-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.
South Texas and Mexican produce – grossing about $2900 to Chicago.