TUBAC, Ariz. — The Mexican tomato trade contributed an estimated $4.8 billion in total economic activity to the U.S. economy in 2016, a new study says.
Dari Duval, economic impact analyst with the University of Arizona, outlined the results Nov. 1 at the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas 50th Nogales Produce Convention.
The full report also is available online.
“First and foremost, even though this produce has been grown and harvested elsewhere, it supports economic activity jobs and income in the U.S. through forward and backward links in the supply chain,” she said during her presentation.
In addition, she said suppliers looked at the effects of a hypothetical decrease in the supply of fresh tomatoes from Mexico. “We found that a decrease as small as 5% could have a negative impact on consumers well-being, ranging in to hundreds of millions (of dollars) per year,” he said.
Duval said researchers looked at U.S. wholesale activity, grocery activity, foodservice sales and transportation.
According to the study, the $4.8 billion in total sales was generated through:
- $1 billion in direct wholesale activity;
- $816 million in direct grocery retail activity;
- $145 million in direct foodservice activity;
- $30 million in in-bound shipments to Canada;
- $2.8 billion from indirect and induced economic multiplier effects.
In 2016, the study found that U.S. imports of Mexican tomatoes were valued at $1.9 billion, while Canada’s tomato imports from Mexico totaled $255 million.
About 9.4 million pounds of tomatoes arrived daily to the U.S. from Mexico in 2016, with 90% of those imports coming through Nogales, Ariz., Pharr, Texas and Otay Mesa, Calif.
2016 U.S. imports from Mexico included 1.7 billion pounds of round tomatoes, 1.5 billion pounds of roma tomatoes, 167 million pounds of grape tomatoes and 61 million pounds of cherry tomatoes, according to the study.
Those imports added $4.8 billion in economic activity, supported nearly 33,000 full and part-time jobs earning $1.4 billion in employee compensation.
In total, $2.9 billion in U.S. gross domestic product was directly and indirectly supported by the value chain delivering imported fresh tomatoes from Mexico to Canada and to U.S. consumers through grocery retail and foodservice industries, the study said. Over $400 million in federal tax revenue and roughly $350 million in state and local tax revenues.