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Nogales companies will be crossing more produce items in south Texas

by Rand Green | December 14, 2010
NOGALES, AZ — With some $2.5 billion worth of fruits and vegetables crossing from Mexico into the United States annually through the Mariposa port of entry, here, Nogales is the most important entry point along the entire border for Mexican produce, particularly for products grown in the states of Sinaloa and Sonora in mainland west Mexico.

But recently, an increasing amount of west Mexico produce has been trucked eastward to border crossings in South Texas, primarily McAllen, and this year, a significant number of importers and distributors in Nogales say that they will be increasing their crossings in McAllen. Several companies that did not already have offices in McAllen are either opening offices this season or are contemplating doing so in the near future.

The reason is more and more customers in the Eastern and Midwestern United States have expressed a desire to load their trucks in McAllen rather than in Nogales.

Some of the product crossing through Texas is grown in eastern or central Mexico, but some west Mexico product will also go that direction.

"One of the things that is a little different this year" for Farmer's Best International LLC, according to Steve Yubetta, vice president of sales, is that “we have had products all summer and for a little bit of the fall that we have been crossing through Texas.” For Farmer’s Best that includes Romas grown in the state of Torreon, about six hours south of McAllen.

Chuck Thomas, president of Thomas Produce Sales Inc., said he is seeing more Nogales companies crossing product in south Texas and more of them opening satellite offices there. He expects that to be even more of a factor in the future.

Rene Produce LLC will be opening a logistics operation in McAllen this season, according to Jose Garcia, who is in charge of grower relations for the company. A lot of companies are doing that, he said. “It is a reality now.”

Malena Produce Inc. will be increasing the volume of several commodities it crosses through McAllen, said Gonzalo Avila, vice president and general manager.

“I see McAllen opening up quite a bit,” said Frank Calixtro, a partner in Calixtro Distributing Inc. He expects to do more buying out of McAllen this year to satisfy customers “or those Texas brokers will take our business.”

Ciruli Bros. has had a branch operation in McAllen for products from central Mexico, but Chris Ciruli, chief executive officer, said he expects to see some of the company’s products from Sinaloa go that way this year, and he expects that will be the case for some other Nogales distributors.

Bernardi & Associates Inc., seeing more product crossing through south Texas, has opened a full time office there. But Joe Bernardi, president, emphasized that companies that are taking product over to south Texas are not opening up new markets. Those markets were already being supplied. Rather, they are gaining some freight advantages, he said.