PHARR, Texas – Reflecting the increased market share the Pharr International Bridge has gained for the import of fruits and vegetables from Mexico, the city’s 92-acre Pharr Produce District is now almost full.

When the park opened a few years ago there were 32 lots available for development. Now, just a handful remain.

This and other information related to the import and export of fresh produce at the Pharr Bridge was relayed by Bridge Director Luis Bazan during a recent webinar.

Early in the webinar, Tony Martinez, of Primo Trading Services, LLC, remarked that private sector investment had slowed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Later in the webinar, Bazan agreed but predicted things will rebound.

“It has kind of slowed down due to the economy and the way things are right now. But if you look across the bridge, adjacent to the bridge and Pharr Produce District, that is strictly a cold warehousing district for the City of Pharr,” Bazan said. 

Pharr Bridge Director Luis Bazan.

“We started with 32 available lots over a 92-acre tract. And here we are a couple of years later and we are almost at capacity. Yes, some of the construction has stopped for a little bit but that is understandable with the current economic conditions. At the end of the day, things will continue.”

Bazan said it makes sense for cold storage warehouses to be positioned close to his bridge.

“People want to be close to the bridge that they cross through. We are very excited to have these companies here that had been crossing through Pharr for many years and decided to put in the investment and work closer with us,” he said.

The webinar featuring Bazan and Martinez was hosted by Miami, Florida-based WorldCity, Inc., which produced the 2020 Pharr Trade Numbers publication. WorldCity generates more than 10 million datasets with the latest U.S. Census Bureau data. It covers more than 200 nations; over 400 airports, seaports and border crossings; and more than 900 export and 900 import commodities.

Ken Roberts, president of WorldCity, said it is thanks to the City of Pharr that his company analyzes trade numbers by port. Before Pharr made this request all the data was obtained at the customs district level. He also said Pharr was the first client to request a Trade Numbers publication in Spanish.

Tony Martinez of Primo Trading Services, Inc.

“As vice chair of the Pharr International Bridge, thank you, Ken, for working with us,” Martinez said. “It truly makes our job so much easier to have you on our side because it is a fact check. You are a name that people trust. When people hear Ken Roberts they know the numbers are there. That means it is valid. It builds confidence in the people we are trying to service.”

Martinez said the competitive advantage Pharr has is the quality of its staff. “It is run by a municipality but it is run as efficiently as a business. Our board is comprised of industry leaders. We work great as a team,” Martinez said.

The webinar focused solely on the import and export of fresh produce at the Pharr Bridge. A future webinar hosted by WorldCity will focus on the volume and value of manufactured goods that cross the Pharr Bridge.

As far as fresh produce is concerned, Bazan said the Pharr Bridge crosses 64 percent of all such produce from Mexico. Even during the pandemic the bridge has been crossing 50,000 shiploads of produce a month, Bazan reported.

“The job you do is exceptional,” Roberts said, referring to the Pharr Bridge directors and staff. “You guys are to be commended.”

Bazan noted that the lowest month for trucks crossing fresh produce was April, 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 crisis. Since then, such truck movements have risen to 15,000 and 16,000 per month.

Ken Roberts of WorldCity, Inc.

“In the months ahead, as we get closer to peak season we will start seeing those 18,000 to 19,000 shipments of fresh produce coming through Pharr,” Bazan predicted.

Bazan said the information put out through the WorldCity webinar was important for the fresh produce industry.

“Despite what we are hearing out there, that there might be additional delays, there are so many variables that go into some of these delays,” Bazan said.

“But, despite COVID, our numbers are still up. We are still having this product cross through here because it is a necessity. There is a need for it. There is a demand for it in the United States.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Pharr leaders and VIPs at a celebration for the start of the fresh produce season at the Pharr International Bridge.

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