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Nogales produce volumes may dip

NOGALES, AZ— Among the thousands of disruptions to American society as a result of the U.S. government shutdown, which rolled into early 2019, came an absence of agricultural trade statistics.

Thus, numbers for Mexican produce shipments through Nogales in late 2018 were not yet counted when The Produce News checked in with Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.Lance-Jungmeyer-FPAALance Jungmeyer

Jungmeyer expected, however, that “for the first time since I took this job in 2010, the overall numbers through Nogales could be lower. Other than that, it’s been rising 2 to 6 percent per year since I have been here.”

If, in fact, Nogales produce distributors see an overall volume decline for 2018, part of the reason will be inclement weather in Mexican fields in the year’s final quarter. While a resulting volume shortage boosted prices to growers, it would have lowered the count on border crossings.

Another factor is the expansion of increased crossings through south Texas.

“I’ll say that a lot of companies here have made the decision to cross in both places,” Jungmeyer noted. “So, that changes a lot of dynamics. But there still are selling points for both sides.”

One advantage of buying Mexican product through Nogales is that the 100-plus produce distributors are within close proximity, giving customers the opportunity to buy truckloads mixed with a broad range of product.

“I think over time we will see more of a West Coast versus East Coast, balance of sales, with Nogales a geographic natural to supply consumers in the western U.S.,” said Jungmeyer.

“Mexico is a big country, and you can grow in a lot of parts of Mexico — in different time windows. The growers will figure out a way to get into distribution,” he added.

Jungmeyer said that citrus, berries, avocados and pineapples would increase in volume in Nogales in the future. “You will see more of those here,” he said. “That makes this area more appealing and gives it year-round attributes. That’s a change since I got here. With more summertime business in Nogales, people don’t take three-month vacations anymore.”