Courtesy Kingdom Fresh FarmsWorkers pick tomatoes in a greenhouse in Torreon, Mexico, for Donna, Texas-Based Kingdom Fresh Farms Inc. Even greenhouse and shade house tomatoes were affected by the cloudy, rainy weather in Mexico this season.Rains in west Mexico growing areas during September and October will result in tight supplies of many commodities this fall and early winter, but Texas distributors say quality should be good, and they expect a strong holiday season.
Meanwhile, South Texas produce companies are looking forward to completion of the long-awaited Durango-Mazatlan highway and a new produce park in Pharr.
In San Antonio, groundbreaking is expected in December on a major new wholesale produce market.
In mid-November, it was business as usual at the McAllen Produce Terminal Market as distributors prepared for winter marketing, said Carlos Zambito, marketing director.
“Everything is going according to plan,” he said.
Thanks to planning with crops in several growing areas, Fresh Tex Produce LLC, Alamo, Texas, has come through the rains with little disruption, said manager Ryan Wolverton.
“If we get rained out or hit in one area, then we’ve got other areas we can pull product from,” he said. “No matter what the product is, we’ll have a very nice, steady flow of it.”
Limes, roma tomatoes, papayas, chili peppers and honeydew melons are the company’s core products, and Wolverton said he expects good quality on all of them.
At Brandt Produce Inc., Edinburg, Texas, manager Blake Brandt said he expects prices to remain high on chili peppers into December, and he said the lime market should go up after Thanksgiving.
Quality should be OK, he said, adding that he expects a strong holiday season.
At Sunny Produce and Brokerage LLC on the McAllen terminal market, vice president Victor Thomas Myers said chili peppers, including poblanos, serranos, jalapeños and tomatillos, look great.
“We’ve had really good quality all year,” he said.
It was a different story for tomatoes, though, because of late summer rains.
“Everyone’s tomatoes were affected pretty bad,” he said.
At least one grower had to pull out his organic cherry tomatoes and won’t be able to offer that item until February or March, Myers said.
Even greenhouse and shade house product was affected by the cloudy, rainy weather in Mexico, said Dan Edmeier, vice president of sales and marketing for Kingdom Fresh Farms Inc., Donna, Texas.
“Right now, it looks kind of challenging,” he said the first week of November.
Production was off up to 25%, he said.
“The tomatoes are hanging but not turning color,” Edmeier said.
But he had no complaints about the quality of the fruit.
“Currently, the quality is outstanding,” he said.
The company ships mainly vine-ripe, roma and grape tomatoes.
Nick Hurter, an owner and vice president of State Street Produce, San Antonio, said the storms touched off a “very volatile market.”
“I would say the market is going to be strong the rest of the year, especially on broccoli, which is our main item,” he said.
Customers of Bland Distribution Services, Donna, anticipate a good December and January, said Nick Sanchez, general manager.
Sanchez said construction is booming throughout South Texas, and the new highway should give a boost to the local economy by speeding up produce deliveries and enabling a wider variety of products to come into the area.
Although the 143-mile Durango-Mazatlan highway officially was inaugurated in October, finishing touches still were being added, and it was expected to be fully operational early in 2014.
The route, with its dozens of tunnels and bridges, should reduce travel time for trucks from 10 hours to four.
The new highway already has touched off a construction boom in South Texas, which includes a 90-acre produce park in Pharr.
The park will be comprised of about 27 2- to 3-acre lots, many of which already have been spoken for. It also should be completed early in 2014.
Many Nogales, Ariz.-based distributors are expected to open branches there.
Finally, McAllen, Texas-based Abasto Properties LLC is planning to break ground for a wholesale produce market in San Antonio by the end of December, said Fernando Narvaez, director of sales and marketing.
The three-phase project is planned to include 200 warehouses. The first phase, consisting of 60 warehouses, should be finished by the end of 2014 or early 2015.