rio rico, az — Leonardo Tarriba does not grow vegetables in Queretaro. But that doesn’t deter him from admiring vegetable production there.
Tarriba is the chief executive officer of Farmer’s Best International LLC, which is one of the larger growers in Mexico.
The sophisticated growing operation of Famer’s Best is centered in Culiacan, Sinaloa. Furthermore, this summer the firm will be growing, packing and exporting from the San Luis Potosi growing district, which is in Mexico’s cooler highlands area about 130 miles north of Queretaro. Farmer’s Best has had a summertime presence in San Luis Potosi for three years, but this is the first year of full production and new, modern infrastructure utilization there.
Tarriba has, of course, worked for years with his Farmer’s Best team to initiate that project.
But he recently outlined several positives regarding the Agropark of Queretaro. “Agropark is the closest thing there is to a produce factory,” Tarriba noted.
Agropark’s website indicates that phase one of the integrated agro-industrial center involves 740 acres, 450 of which are greenhouses. Now Agropark’s phase two is under way. This will add an extra 1,300 acres. Of this acreage, 550 will be greenhouses. The rest of the space involves warehouses, green spaces and a residential area. Phase one created 2,400 new jobs. Phase two is expected to create 5,000 direct, and more than 2,130 indirect jobs.
“To date, 11 companies have set up production operations at the park’s state-of-the-art greenhouse facilities,” according to the website. The firms are owned by Mexicans and international owners.
Among the characteristics admired by Tarriba is the open, progressive nature of those companies that are engaged in the park.
Tarriba learned of one established greenhouse operator who went to see a relatively new competitor. The visitor brought a file, which contained reports on everything the first company had learned through its investments and trial-and-error processes to maximize its own greenhouse productivity.
In cheerfully handing the papers to his competitor, the fellow explained that he preferred sharing his secrets as opposed to dealing with bad competition.
This produce factory is not operated by conventional produce companies. Instead, Tarriba said, it is an investment project of Mexican businessmen who are generally from Mexico City and have succeeded in other business realms.
In the more traditional realm of Farmer’s Best, Tarriba said “We prefer to have quality competition, which will fight for value and returns. Sometimes others offer lesser value at any price, when the market perceives those as the same product. But it is not.”
A year such as this, which saw very low produce prices for many weeks, is part of the cycle that will remove poor competition, Tarriba noted.
Agropark productivity is another object of Tarriba’s admiration. These greenhouses are in production 51 weeks a year. “They are high maintenance and high cost,” he added.
Because of the reliable productivity, there is a huge advantage. If a grower of field tomatoes has a weather problem, he must explain to a chain buyer that one load may be available for shipment, not the expected five. The buyer “does not care and we lose credibility.”
Having this greenhouse consistency could be a great complement to field production, Tarriba noted. Thus, he is interested in developing alliances with such greenhouse producers.
“We have had challenges with Mother Nature. If we had an alternative in our arsenal, we would have been better prepared and our market would have been stronger.”