I you have loaded produce at one of the border crossings in California, Arizona or Texas then odds are those loadings have included Mexican tomatoes. The tomato is big business.
A new study by the University of Arizona points out Mexican tomatoes crossing the U.S. border contributed an estimated $4.8 billion in total economic activity to the American economy in 2016.
Even though Mexican tomatoes are grown and harvested south of the U.S. border, it supports economic activity jobs and income in the U.S. through forward and backward links in the supply chain.
A hypothetical decrease in the supply of fresh tomatoes from Mexico made by suppliers found a decrease as small as 5 percent could have a negative impact on consumers well-being, ranging in to hundreds of millions (of dollars) per year. Researchers for the study considered U.S. wholesale activity, grocery activity, foodservice sales and transportation.
According to the study, the $4.8 billion in total sales was generated through:
- $1 billion in direct wholesale activity;
- $816 million in direct grocery retail activity;
- $145 million in direct foodservice activity;
- $30 million in in-bound shipments to Canada;
- $2.8 billion from indirect and induced economic multiplier effects.
The study found that U.S. imports of Mexican tomatoes in 2016 were valued at $1.9 billion, while Canada’s tomato imports from Mexico totaled $255 million.
U.S. imports from Mexico in 2016 included 1.7 billion pounds of round tomatoes, 1.5 billion pounds of roma tomatoes, 167 million pounds of grape tomatoes and 61 million pounds of cherry tomatoes, according to the study.
In total, $2.9 billion in U.S. gross domestic product was directly and indirectly supported by the value chain delivering imported fresh tomatoes from Mexico to Canada and to U.S. consumers through grocery retail and foodservice industries. This resulted in over $400 million in federal tax revenue and roughly $350 million in state and local tax revenues.