|RAYMONDVILLE, September 9 - The Pharr International Bridge and the Anzalduas International Bridge are primed to become great hubs for the commercial shipping of produce from western Mexico to the U.S., according to trade experts.
A huge increase in fresh produce from Sinaloa is expected to be imported through the Pharr International Bridge next year. With Anzalduas accommodating trucks in the coming years, ports of entry in the Rio Grande Valley are bound to be the conduit for trade going to the eastern markets of the U.S., according to Guillermo Nuñez.
Nuñez is executive director of the Asociación de Introductores de Productos Agrícolas, (AIPA). He spoke at the recent Raymondville Community Economic Summit about the new superhighway being built from Mazatlán, in Sinaloa, to Matamoros, in Tamaulipas. It is the first major east-west highway in Mexico.
Between 70 to 80 percent of the vegetables that Mexico produces are grown in Sinaloa, located on the country’s west coast, straddling the Pacific Ocean. Produce then gets shipped to the east coast and into Europe via corridors, which traditionally have run through Nogales in Arizona, an 18-hour trip.
Mexico’s new Coredor Económico del Norte, as it is called, will cross seven states in Mexico and will cut the time it takes to get from Mazatlán to the U.S. from 18 to ten hours, with the Valley the obvious crossing point. Mazatlán officials are projecting to increase the amount of containers they handle from 500,000 to two million once the new superhighway gets established.
The highway took six years to build at a cost of $3 billion dollars and is the largest public works project ever undertaken in the history of the Republic of Mexico, according to Mexican officials.
“Ninety percent of the produce going to the U.S. is going to the east. That is why Pharr will be the real port of entry for fruits and vegetables from western Mexico,” Nuñez said. “In money (saved), it means $1,500 to $2,000 freight by truckload. That is why cost profit ratio should be better. The natural way to go for produce from west Mexico to the U.S. will be to go through Pharr.”
In Mexico, the federal government and state government of Tamaulipas are working with AIPA to add at least 100,000 square feet of warehouse space, 30 percent of which will be cold storage, according to Nuñez.
He calls it a “twin plan,” with Reynosa trying to match Pharr and Mission, which are already in the process of adding cold storage facilities and warehouses on the U.S. side of the border.
“As far as I know, activity is booming in Pharr, but I don’t really see competition,” Nuñez said. “You know Anzalduas will be ready for produce in 2014. It’s going to be a boon for the produce industry in Mission too. In the area close to Anzalduas (Bridge), a big part of the land is going to be for produce.”
AIPA is a non-profit organization comprised of growers and transportation companies mainly from Mexico, but not limited to Mexico, according to Nuñez. Right now, the organization is looking to accommodate a big chunk of brokers who are knocking on their doors because they want to know what is going on in Mexico, Nuñez said
“Through this organization, we have the best of two countries, the best of U.S.A and Mexico,” he said. “Right now we are working pretty close with the FDA because the new regulation about the healthy condition of Mexican produce is really important. To be part of that process, (we have) to be in contact with Mexican and American authorities to accomplish what they need to have a product that is healthy and secure.”