ORLANDO, FL -- In late March next year, a new produce conference will be
held in McAllen, TX, focusing on the issues and opportunities involved in
fresh fruit and vegetable trade between the United States and Mexico.
Titled "America Trades Produce Conference," the three-day event will be
sponsored by the Texas Produce Association, which is headquartered in
Mission, TX, and the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, which served
its constituency from its offices in Nogales, AZ.
Speaking to The Produce News Oct. 18 here at the Produce Marketing
Association's convention, TPA President John McClung said that he is "fired up
about this new conference." He added that this cooperative effort is a great
opportunity to address some very important issues that are specific to trade
between the two countries.
In a press release jointly issued by the two associations, FPAA President Lance
Jungmeyer said, "Growth in the importation of Mexican produce shows no
signs of abating, and in fact we expect to see significantly increased volumes
in the years ahead."
Mr. McClung said that the numbers speak for themselves, adding that about
60 percent of the fresh produce volume shipped from south Texas to the rest
of the country originates in Mexico. In aggregate, the dollar volume of
Mexican produce exported to the United States is in the $5 billion to $6
billion range, he said.
The press release quantified the scope of the transactions, stating that more
than 13 billion pounds of produce representing in excess of 334,000
truckloads crossed into the United States from Mexico in the one-year period
ending this past August. The release also said that Mexico's agricultural
exports worldwide are in excess of $16.8 billion.
Mr. MCclung said that the plan is to make the conference an annual event if
the interest is there. "Because it is a first-time event, we really have no idea
how many people will attend," he said. "We could have 50 or we could have
Mr. McClung believes that growers, shippers and exporters from south of the
border as well as importers, wholesalers and retailers from the United States
will find the conference beneficial.
The specific conference topics have not yet been developed, he said, but
practical considerations involved in cross-border trading, such as
phytosanitary issues, traceability and food safety, will no doubt be in the mix.
In developing this conference concept, the two associations have reached out
to others in the industry such as the PMA, the United Fresh Produce
Association, Western Growers Association, the Dispute Resolution Corp. and
the major grower and exporter associations in Mexico, including CAADES (the
grower-shipper association in the state of Sinaloa) and AMPHAC (the
greenhouse grower group in Mexico).
"The Arizona and Texas associations recognize that each of these groups has
experience, knowledge and capabilities that we don't have," Mr. Jungmeyer
said in the press release. "We have asked them to help us organize the most
meaningful, practical regional conference possible. We believe that by
working together, we will be able to provide the industry with solid, long-
term, take-home value."
The establishment of the conference was announced Oct. 16 at a press
conference during the PMA convention. Mr. McClung said afterward that the
members of each organization should not read anything more into this.
"The two associations are not merging," he said.
The conference will be held from March 30 to April 1, most likely at the
McAllen Convention Center in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.