The USDA reports that shipments of produce imported through Texas ports grew from 101,400 (40,000-pound) truckloads in 2007 to 159,482 truckloads in 2012, a gain of 58%. Produce shipments through Arizona ports grew 16%, from 112,328 truckloads in 2007 to 130,022 truckloads in 2012. Mexican fresh produce shipments through California ports rose 42%, from 43,336 truckloads in 2008 to 61,716 truckloads in 2012.
Erickson believes the pace of growth for Texas imports of Mexican produce will pick up in coming years as more trucks use the highway.
Of the nearly 160,000 truckloads of produce crossing through Texas in 2012, Erickson, said about 100,000 truckloads came across the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge bridge. Pharr was followed in volume by Laredo, Progreso and Rio Grande City, Erickson said.
If trends hold — and those trends will be reinforced by greater use of the Mazatlon-Matamoros highway — then Pharr is likely to overtake Nogales as the leading port of entry for Mexican produce, Erickson said.
“Any product that is destined for the Midwest or for the East Coast markets, that highway is like a pipeline that leads straight into South Texas,” Erickson said.
Vegetable shippers in Sinaloa will save time and money if they go through South Texas, he said.
Erickson said more produce distributors and customs brokers are setting up shop in south Texas, and cold storages are expanding.
Del Campo Supreme Inc., Nogales, opened a facility in Pharr in September.
“It’s a valuable tool having a facility there and it enables to be competitive in the eastern markets with shorter delivery times and freight savings for the end user,” said Jimmy Munguia, sales manager for Del Campo Supreme.
The Nogales office manages sales for the Texas program — mostly tomatoes for Del Campo.
A study released in September by the Center for North American Studies at Texas A&M University estimates produce crossing trends through 2020 will continue to increase for South Texas. According to the study, “Economic Impacts of Increased U.S. Imports of Fresh Produce from Mexico by 2020,” fresh produce imports from Mexico totaled $7.65 billion in 2012, with 45% ($3.44 billion) entering through all Texas land ports.