“This situation has affected us, it has been very devastating, and the market took a real fall. Consumers are terrified and nobody is buying,” Salinas said June 25.
While the Food and Drug Administration is busy tracking the source of the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak, growers in Mexico are suffering the consequences of the FDA’s advisory.
Salinas said before the advisory, the company shipped 10 to 15 loads a day; now, Bonanza ships just two or three loads a day.
“We are having such a hard time selling them. Before (the outbreak), the market was three times stronger than it is now,” he said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported on June 24 that Mexico exported 27.8 million pounds of tomatoes to the U.S. from June 1 through June 22 this year. During the same time last year, the number was 43.2 million pounds.
McAllen, Texas-based GR Produce Inc. echoes Bonanza’s sentiments. The company has 1,402 acres of tomatoes in the states of Sinaloa, Coahuila and Chihuahua.
“We estimated our losses and 79 truckloads have not been able to sell,” GR Produce general manager Abraham Dajlala said. “Every day, we lose thousands and thousands of dollars.”
Product rotting while awaiting test results
At the border in McAllen, the FDA is doing daily inspections and taking tomato samples stored in warehouses in an effort to trace back the salmonella source.
“The FDA lets the tomatoes cross the border, so they will inspect a few here and there. They are currently taking samples,” Salinas said. “After the sampling is done, nobody can touch (the tomatoes) until the labs results come in,” he said.