Page 53 - December2018
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of Mexico City in Puebla and a few hundred miles north in Torreon.
“People are looking for a sweet snacking tomato, whether you call it cherry, grape, Campari or cocktail,” says Garcia. “We also see more demand for Roma tomatoes because all the retailers want them to attract customers with a good deal.”
Texas growers  nd themselves in competi- tion with the counterparts in Mexico during the weeks when many seasonal crops overlap.
“At certain times of the year, the Mexican imports impact us,” says Brechler. “It may a ect us with parsley and cilantro. It can a ect us with watermelons and honeydews, and onions.”
In 2016, U.S. fruit and vegetable imports from Mexico reached about 10 million metric tons, with a total value of about $12.4 billion, according to US Department of Agricul- ture Economic Research Service statistics, which accounted for 43 percent of all U.S.
PHOTO COURTESY OF KINGDOM FRESH
fruit-and-vegetable imports from all coun- tries.
“Half of all the fresh produce that comes into the country from Mexico comes through Texas,” says Galeazzi.” Every year, 255,000 truckloads come into Texas from Mexico. At the Pharr International Bridge south of McAllen alone, 157,000 loads of produce come in every year, which is a little more than Nogales, AZ.”
Tomatoes account for nearly 30 percent of all the vegetables imported from Mexico, while avocados, watermelons and limes make up more than half the volume of fruits, according to USDA statistics.
“For the past 12 years, fresh produce from Mexico has grown signi cantly every year,” says Galeazzi. “ e biggest items now are tomatoes, avocados, limes, mangos and broc- coli. Mangos and limes  ip- op some years, and No. 5 changes. It was sweet peppers a few years ago.”
 ere are grower-shipper operations with farms on both sides of the border, as well as Texas-based shipping operations that grow in Mexico and sell to U.S. retailers.
While expanding its line to suit U.S. consumers, Kingdom Fresh remains committed to growing in Mexico because the tomatoes are better.
“ e quality of the tomatoes from Mexico is better because of the technology and infra- structure,” says Garcia. “In the U.S., you have a lot of  eld-grown tomatoes, but in Mexico the growers put them under protection and the quality is usually higher.”
In the past couple of years, Kingdom Fresh has branched out to o er organic options for its most popular tomatoes.
“We grow Roma, grape, vine-ripe, organic Roma, and organic grape tomatoes,” says Garcia. “We are going into our second season with organic. We are pushing it in Texas, and we have had a lot of success marketing them.”
Every day more consumers have ques- tions about the conditions of the workers who produce their food, and this company has answers.
“ e human connections are what make our business successful,” according to the Kingdom Fresh internet site. “No labor camps, no relocated workers, no separation of families. What we get is long-term employees that get additional access to training, healthcare, education and support for local programs that grow their communities and support their families. By cultivating the human connections — we cultivate consis- tently great-tasting products.”
Although Mexico has become the most important source of produce sold in Texas, fruit and vegetable production is still increasing on both sides of the border.
“We expect the produce  gures to keep growing,” says Galeazzi, “in both Texas and Mexico.” pb
PHOTO COURTESY OF SOUTH TEXAS ONION COMMITTEE
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