Posts Tagged “Mexico”

Texas Looking to Allow Heavier Trucks to Cross Border

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DSCN0159Overweight trucks legally transporting produce into the USA from Mexico might be possible, if the state of Texas eases some rules and regulations.  The state and some others see a benefit of easing border congestion.

The Texas House of Representatives recently passed legislation to create an “overweight corridor” at the USA -Mexico border, and the Texas Senate is expected to vote on it soon.

The proposed corridor, from the Anzalduas Bridge to the Pharr/Reynosa Bridge, would be an area where Mexican trucks carrying fresh produce would be able to enter the U.S. even if they were overweight. Trucks would then offload their extra weight at a U.S. cold storage facility.

A Mexican truck, under current law, carrying produce that weighs too much, faces a stiff fine if it crosses into the USA.

Currently, trucks are weighed on the Mexican side of the border, and extra product is typically offloaded there if the truck is overweight.  This procedure delays truck movement at the border and exposes perishable fruits and vegetables to the elements as it waits for another truck to pick it up.

Trucks that are overweight would be charged a fee, under the proposed law, which is much smaller than the current fine.  The big rig would then be allowed to proceed to a cold storage facility in the overweight zone’s boundaries.

Arizona already has a similar law.

Funds from the overweight fees would be used to maintain the roads that will be carrying the heavier loads.

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From Strawberries to Grapes, Things are Changing at Your Favorite Store

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In case you haven’t noticed strawberries in retail supermarket are costing about 30 percent more, or about a dollar more per 16 ounce claimshell package, than only a few weeks ago.  After a summer of plentiful supplies, this is the time of year when strawberry production is in a transition from the bountiful fields at Watsonville, CA to areas further south, such as Ventura and Orange counties, as well as in Mexico.  It will be the first of the year before supplies increase, and perhaps some break in what you are paying in the stores.

Long gone are days of 99-cent-per-pound apples.  Yet, this fruit is one of the better buys in produce departments.  Despite a freeze wiping out the vast majority of apples in Michigan last spring, plus cold weather hitting New York apples hard, the nation should have nine percent more apples than a year ago – thanks to a humongous crop in Washington state.  Still it depends on the variety, what you will pay.  For example, two of my favorites, the Gala and the fuji apples are selling at my store for $1.77 per pound.  However, another favorite of mine, the Ambrosia apples, costs about 50 percent more.

Table grapes have been another wonderful eating experience this year.  California’s crop has been so sweet and cruncy I sure hate to see the season end.  I’m noticing the late season grapes from California are not quit as good as the super tasting product that has been available for month.  Grapes also have been one of the best buys in the produce department.  The California product will soon be replaced by grapes from Chile.  We can only hope Chile has as good a crop.

Other good buys in the produce department continue to be bananas and kiwifruit.


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Fruit, Vegetable Imports to USA Continue Increasing

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USA imports of fresh fruit and vegetables have increased significantly since the 1990s, and this has increased loading opportunities during a time of the year when it is an off season for a majority of American grown produce items.

These off season suppliers for fresh produce are primarily the Southern Hemisphere countries countries near the equator for bananas.

While it is trendy and cool to be associated with locally grown produce these days, locally grown is minor compared to the strong growth in volume and variety of fresh produce that is imported.  These imported fruits and vegetables has allowed U.S. consumers to eat more produce, and for truckers to haul more produce, on a year-round basis.  This is product that normally would not be available.

The USDA  states that between 1990-92 and 2004-06, annual USA imports of fresh fruit and vegetables surged to $7.9 billion from $2.7 billion, with the share of total USA imports for agriculture rising to 13.3 percent from 11.5 percent. USA exports of fresh produce also increase, but less. As a result, the United States has increasingly become a net importer of fresh produce.

As of 2007, USA fresh produce trade was dominated by a few regions. Fresh vegetable imports from Mexico and Canada were over $3.2 billion, which comprises the single-largest trade channel among regions of U.S. fresh produce trade.

USA fruit trade is more diverse than vegetable trade in terms of foreign trade partners. Whereas fresh vegetable trade is largely concentrated within North American Free Trade Agreement countries and Asia (95 percent of exports and 84 percent of imports), fresh fruit trade with those regions is less significant (85 percent of exports and 28 percent of imports).

Because fresh produce is highly perishable and seasonal, geography has traditionally played a major role in the global trade patterns of fresh produce.

The main sources of USA fresh fruit imports are banana-exporting countries, and the Southern Hemisphere and NAFTA regions. The banana exporters — Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama — are the largest providers of fresh fruit to the United States.

Together, these countries supply 36 percent of total U.S. fresh fruit imports, with bananas making up more than three-quarters of the fresh fruit value shipped by these equatorial countries to the United States. Southern Hemisphere countries — Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and Peru — supply 32 percent of U.S. fresh fruit imports. The NAFTA region supplies 27 percent of U.S. fresh fruit imports.

The structure of the U.S. fresh fruit import mix, however, has changed substantially, particularly since the 1990s, as grape and tropical fruit imports have grown faster than bananas.

Blueberries are a good example of an item that has grown quickly and hugely over the past decade. Other fruits and vegetables, such as asparagus from Peru, are also inching toward the list of items that are outpacing banana imports.

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Nogales Winter Produce Loads will be Increasing

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Entering the lightest season volume wise for produce loads, it’s not uncommon for multiple pick ups and drops to fill out the trailer.  Pick ups starting in southern California may extend to the California desert, Yuma and perhaps even Nogales.  Changes for the better are occuring at the Arizona, Mexico border that should improve produce crossings in the USA and reduce delays for loadings at the many Nogales warehouses.

The Mariposa port was built in the 1970s, designed to handled 400 trucks crossing into Arizona daily.  Over the years changes have increased the truck count to around 1600 to 1800 a day.  In the past an estimated 25 percent of the trucks crossing the border into Arizona were delayed because of gridlock on the Mariposa Road (State Route 189), which connects the port to I-19.  Numerous stop lights on the state route often contribute to the delays.

In 2009 a $220 million expansion of the port was started and is scheduled for completion in 2014.  This should increase traffic capabilities to 4,000 to 5,000 trucks a day crossing the border in Nogales.

Meanwhile, there is light volume of watermelon, honeydew, squash, bell peppers, tomatoes and other items crossing the border from Mexico, it will be another month of so before the volume really improves.

Nogales produce is grossing about $3400 to Chicago, about $5800 to New York.

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Western USA Produce Shipments are Steady

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California Navel  orange shipments for the 2012-13 season is estimated at 93 million cartons (40-pound equivalent) statewide and 90 million cartons for the  San Joaquin Valley, according to the  USDA.

While shipments for California Navels should be heavy, it will probably be short of a record.   The record was hit in the 2010-11 season, when the Central Valley alone produced 93 million cartons, and up 6 percent from the 2011-12 loads.

The first shipments took place in early November.

 Red potato shipments out of North Dakota and Minnesota are nearly 35 percent head of loadings through October than they were during he same fall period a year ago.  Red River Valley fresh potato shipments are expected to be the largest since 2008.

The total USA potato volume is estimated to be at least 12 million hundredweight larger than a year ago.

The North American Potato Market news is reporting that average daily shipments of russets has dropped 0.6 percent compared to last year while daily red shipments increased 18 percent.

Texas citrus season is in full swing, and shipping has begun for grapefruit and oranges.  The USDA forecast for the 2012 – 2013 Texas citrus season is 2.8 million cartons of oranges and 10.6 million cartons of grapefruit.

Moderate shipments of watermelons from Mexico will continue crossing the border into Nogales, AZ through the end of the year.  Overall Mexican fruit and vegetable crossing at Nogales are seasonally light, but the will change in Janaury as a host of produce items will be increasing in volume.

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Berries Increasing Popularity with Consumers Highlighted in Report

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Strawberries continue to be a favorite of consumers, as well as other berries ranging from raspberries to blueberries and blackberries.  The popularity of each continues to increase.  The fruit not only is tasty, but healthy.

The agricultural lending company Rabobank sees retail berry sales continuing to incrase by seven percent annually for the next three years.


Rabobank’s Food and Agribusiness Research and Advisory group recently released a report, titled “The U.S. Fresh Berry Boom — Who Will Profit from the Growth?”

No surprising is the report notes California will continue to be the leading producer of fresh berries for strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.  Sharpest gains in recent years have been with strawberries and blueberries.

California produces 88 percent of the country’s fresh strawberries and significant portions of fresh blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Florida is also a significant producer of fresh berries.

During the fall and winter months strawberry and blueberry importes from Mexico and Chile compete directly with Florida’s season.  Chile now accounts for over 50 percent of imported blueberries.

Consumers are now purchasing more berries that been grown south from British Columbia and continuing all the way south along the coast to Chile.  This shift will continue following seasonal patterns, but also seeing increased volume in the more southern regions.

Over the past five years, California has shown tremendous growth in strawberry production the past five years.  In 2008, the state produced 114 million cartons of strawberries, which grew to 181 million cartons in 2010.  In 2011, volume actually slipped to 178 million cartons but this year,  but in 2013, the total volume should be in the 190 million carton range.

The majority of those gains come from increased yields.  California’s strawberry acreage totalled 36,519 acres in 2008, but was down to 37,732 acres this year.

It is a different story for blueberries. Worldwide statistics show total world acreage of blueberries has grown significantly over the years.  It has quadrupled in the past 15 years and now sits near 200,000 acres with most of that being in North and South America.  The Americas represent close to 80 percent of the world’s blueberry acreage and production.

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Government’s New Math: 12 + 12 = 20

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 It seems that the old saying “the more things change, the more things stay the same” is as true as Isaac Newton’s law of gravity.  One thing for certain, it ain’t a pretty picture.   To quote Benjamin Franklin,  “We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”

In the United States, that has never been more true than today.  Looking at news headlines all year has convinced me that we are have already become a nation where the morons far outnumber the rest of us. Let’s look at some of the more notable issues of this past year.

In Detroit $15,000 per student was spent on public education with a 24.7 percent graduation rate. Now just what employer wants to hire someone who has demonstrated they are a quitter by dropping out of school? I can’t imagine why they have such a high unemployment rate in Detroit, can you?

We have President Obama that plays golf all the time and waits for Congress to work together and bring solutions to him.  That’s like being a general and waiting for your troops to work out the battle plans for you. Do you think just maybe we have a failure of leadership here?

The state of California is drowning in overspending and debt and who do they elect for governor?  Good old “Governor Moonbeam,”  the very guy who spent them into oblivion the last time he was governor.  We have a retirement supplemental program called Social Security, that everyone knows is running out of money rapidly, and what does our infinitely wise government do?  They classify drug addiction as a disability so drug addicts can suck off of Social Security disability payments.   After all, we wouldn’t want those poor disabled drug addicts not to have the money to buy more drugs now, would we?

In his re-election campaign,  the President’s campaign managers have declared Governor Romney has a “war on women.”   Now just how does a man that has had five children engage in a “war on women?”  Five kids kind of indicates that you like women pretty well doesn’t it?  New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg has outlawed soft drinks over 16 ounces to limit the sugar intake of New Yorkers.  Instead of buying a single 24-ounce drink New Yorkers are now buying two 16 ounce drinks.  I guess old Mayor Bloomberg just isn’t very good at math.

The number one problem in Mexico is drug gang violence, and it has resulted in over 35,000 murders.  So what does our Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) do?  They allow shipments of over 2,000 assault weapons to be sent across the border to Mexican drug cartels. Now that makes sense doesn’t it?   Makes you think maybe the ATF has been hiring Detroit dropouts.

The Chicago teachers are some of the highest compensated teachers in the nation.  So what do they do? They go on strike because they don’t want to be held accountable for their performance.  I just can’t imagine why Chicago schools are failing, can you?  Derek Jeter should join the Chicago teachers union.

The pièce de résistance rests in the White House and holds the nation’s office of the Vice President of The United States. I like to call him “Gaffy Duck” Joe Biden.  This is a guy that is the envy of all the writers on Saturday Night Live. They can never top the things that this guy comes up with. He was the very first person to note,  “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”  Now that doesn’t imply that the former African-American candidates were mumbling, stupid, dirty, and ugly does it, Joe?  Does it worry you that this idiot is just a heartbeat away from the Presidency? I mean this guy was laughing all the time in the recent VP debate about Iran obtaining a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching Cincinnati. Nice to know the nation’s VP thinks ICBMs in the hands of Islamic martyrs are laughable.

I don’t know, maybe it’s me and the fact that I’m getting older, but it just seems that common sense has left this country and moved to China. You know, the place where Jeep is putting in a new factory, and according to our nation’s leaders they will never import Chinese made Jeeps to the U.S.  Oh well, I think I’m just going to take the “Bloomberg common sense” solution to all of this. Instead of ordering a 20-ounce margarita I’m going to order two 12-ounce ones instead! I guess that’s the new math.  — Larry Oscar

Larry Oscar is a graduate from the University of Tulsa and holds a degree in electrical engineering. He is retired and lives with his wife on a lake in Oklahoma where he brews his own beer, sails, and is a member of numerous clubs and organizations.



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New Texas Facility May Result in More Mexican Produce Loads

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Produce loading opportunities from the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas are expected to increase in coming years as a new highway connecting West Mexico to south Texas opens in the new few months.  Now another project is expected to increase produce loads from Mexico to markets in the USA and Canada.

A plan to change how millions of boxes of mangos are treated for the Mexican fruit fly and bacterial contaminants could be a boon  Valley’s growing produce industry — and ultimately produce haulers.

The  USDA has lifted a procedural barrier allowing construction along the U.S.-Mexico border of facilities that blast mangos and other fresh produce with a highly focused beam of electricity, eliminating pathogens and pests.  McAllen, TX becomes the first city in the Southwest with the technology.

The E-beam facility will be built at 23rd Street and Military Highway on land owned by the Abasto Corp., directly across the street from the 42-acre Warehouse Kingdom development.  The valley’s E-beam facility should create a competitive advantage for the McAllen metro area as it seeks to gain a larger share of the Mexican produce market. But consumers across the nation could also benefit from a larger array of high-quality fruits and vegetables that last longer on the shelf.

The high-tech procedure is supposed to virtually eliminate the chance of pests and pathogens such as fruit flies crossing the border.

The $22 million facility, which will eventually employ up to 200 people, will use a non-nuclear alternative to gamma-based irradiation to sterilize fruit and vegetables crossing the border in both directions.

To kill microorganisms, produce has traditionally been treated with a gas called ethylene oxide that is being phased out for health and environmental reasons. But a shift to treating produce in hot water baths created its own host of problems, among them a reduced shelf life and lower success in killing contaminants.

ScanTech’s technology eliminates both problems by essentially electrocuting the fruit without generating heat. The irradiation method uses less energy, does not involve dangerous radioactive materials and is supposed to be as safe to operate as a household microwave.


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A Look at Loading Opportunities from Around the Country

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Washington and Pennsylvania apple shippers are filling the gap left by major crop losses in Michigan and New York.   However, many Eastern growers who thought they would be shipping through the end of the year, probably will not as they run out of product.    As a result, the demand for Washington apple loadings likely will increase sooner rather than later.

Apple volumes  from Pennsylavania  were  up to 20 percent more than expected,  given the severe crop shortages in New York and Michigan.

Avocado Shipments

More avocados will be crossing the border from Mexico in the USA in the months ahead for distribution by truck throughout North America.

Mexico, which is the largest supplier of Hass avocados to the USA market, prediciting record loads for the 2012-13 crop and expects to export a record volume of avocados to the USA market during the 2012-13 season.

Mexico, projected exports of Hass to the United States from July 2012 through June 2013 will total more than 918 million pounds, up from around 782 million pounds during the prior year.

The most active shipping period and biggest volumes will occur from between October-through-December (around 291 million pounds) and the January-through-March period (around 269 million pounds).

Blueberry Imports

Blueberry imports from Chile just continue to increase and should be available from various USA ports in coming weeks.  The initial berries will be arriving via air shipments through the first half of December.  But as volume picks up, most blueberries will arrive at USA port via boats.  Biggest volume arrivals should be during January and February.

Lower Rio Grande Valley (Mexican crossings of citrus, fruit, veggies, avocados, etc. – grossing about $2200 to Chicago.

Washington apples – about $6000 to New York City.



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Looking at Shipments of Grapefruit, Avocados, Sweet Potatoes

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This is the time of year when shipments of Florida grapefruit gets underway, as well as the new crop of sweet potatoes from various states coast-to-coast.  It also means shipments of avocados will soon be shipping from California to arrivals of ports of entry from Mexico, as well as at various ocean ports receiving avocados from Chile.

Florida Grapefruit Loads

There was a  shortage of California fruit and those shipments the first half of September ended about two weeks earlier than usual. Florida citrus shippers are beginning their new season shipping grapefruit right on schedule.   Growers in the Indian River region began harvesting the last week of September.  Loading opportunities for Florida grapefruit should start volume in early to mid-October.

Avocado Shipments

 Plenty of avocado shipments should be available as California supplies wind down and Mexican and Chilean shipments increase.

California loads will be available longer than usual this fall, and big volumes from Mexico will be crossing the border  in the coming weeks. By mid-October, California should be mostly finished for the season.

 Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato shipments in the USA may be down slightly this season, which extends through next summer.

As we previously reported, Louisiana and Mississippi were onlyslightly affected by Hurricane Isaac in late August….North Carolina and California are the largest shippers of sweet potatoes.

In 2011, there were 133,600 acres of sweet potatoes planted, while this year an estimated 131,400 acres planted.

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