In the friendly rivalry between south Texas and Arizona, the stakes are getting bigger. Coverage in the Houston Chronicle is headlined, “Packing it up and hauling it in" with the subhead "Moving Mexican produce is a booming Valley business, no matter how you slice it"
The story details statistics about the respective fresh produce trade of the two regions. From the piece:
While Arizona's ports have been the leading entryways for Mexican produce in the past, Texas' string of border crossings has claimed the top spot this year, according to the Texas Produce Association and the USDA. USDA data through June shows that 3.8 billion pounds of produce moved through Texas ports from Mexico, about 170 million pounds more than Arizona's ports. Last year, Arizona's ports were the leaders in produce imports with 5.4 billion pounds, almost 120 million pounds more than Texas.
Factors cited for the continued rise of Texas include the soon-to-be completed Mexican highway across the Sierra Madre Mountains between Mazatlán and Durango. That, the story said, will make it quicker to move produce east out of growing regions on Mexico's west coast.
Here is coverage on the same issue from Nogales International. From July 15:
“One of my hopes is that Arizona will wake up and see what a good thing it has in the produce industry,” said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, which represents about 110 produce importers and related businesses in the Nogales area.
A major highway construction project underway in Mexico would improve the narrow and winding roadway that links Mazatlan in the farming rich state of Sinaloa through the rugged Sierra Madres with the city of Durango. The nearly 150-mile stretch of road, the Durango-Mazatlan Highway, will complete the link that connects Mexico’s Pacific Coast with the border town of Renoysa, Tamaulipas, near the Gulf Coast.
From there, products would travel northeast to warehousing facilities in the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metropolitan area.
For produce importers in Texas, the highway project represents a potential gold rush of produce from Mexico.
Check out coverage from The Packer on this issue from November last year by Pamela Riemenschneider:
Over the past several years, the volume of Mexican produce shipped through Rio Grande Valley points of entry has increased steadily.
Expect that trend to continue as shippers in Nogales, Ariz., explore their options to the east.
“The most immediate and practical reason for the increase in shipments is diesel fuel cost,” said John McClung, president of the Texas Produce Association, Mission.
Produce headed to eastern U.S. destinations ships $1,000 to $1,500 cheaper on diesel fuel alone, McClung said.
TK: For now, at least, the rise of south Texas is being backed up by investment in cold storages and other infrastructure. For the industry's sake, the "friendly competition" between Arizona and south Texas will raise the service level for all buyers of Mexican fresh produce.