A look at Mexican imports – Produce Blue Book
According to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s 2021 Tomato Annual Report, Mexico’s Food and Fisheries Information System (SIAP) cites about 80 percent of Mexican tomato exports entering the United States are grown. under protection.
This is a key factor in the increase in volume from the country, which rose 20.6% last year, to a record value of $ 2.6 billion.
Mexico is the world’s largest exporter of tomatoes. Sinaloa, in northwestern Mexico, is the nation’s leading tomato-producing state for fall and winter production, supplying the US market from December through May.
This coincides with Florida’s growing season and is the source of lingering tensions between the two growers. During the summer months, supplies come from the central region of Mexico, while from May to December, tomatoes are exported from Baja California and Baja California Sur on the west coast of the country.
The Mexican government provides substantial support for protected agriculture, with incentives covering up to 50 percent of the investment cost.
In 2017, the Mexican Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) forecast a substantial increase in tomato production of 46 percent and an increase in 77 percent export capacity from 2016 to 2024. The country is certainly making progress on this expected growth. .
Rules, controversy, points of view
About 80 percent of Mexican tomato imports into the United States are Roma, who have gained popularity with consumers of all ages.
Last year, the USDA proposed subjecting previously exempted Roma tomatoes to the federal Florida-grown tomato marketing ordinance, as recommended by the Florida Tomato Committee.
The latter also recommends developing an exemption language for greenhouse and hydroponic tomatoes by establishing a new definition for “controlled environment” and modifying the packaging and container requirements to reflect current industry practices. But in April of this year, the USDA withdrew its proposal after receiving comments from industry stakeholders.
Mexico’s unfair trade practices have been a burning issue for the Florida commodities industry for years. The Tomato Suspension Agreement, revamped and signed in 2019, sets a floor price and requires inspections of tomatoes for quality and condition upon entry into the United States from Mexico.
Designed to prevent Mexican imports from driving down the prices of fresh tomatoes in the domestic market, it continues to cause problems in the United States and Mexico. Many question its effectiveness.
“It’s effective, but not as much as expected,” says Elmer Mott, vice president of Collier Tomato & Vegetable Distributors, Inc., BB #: 126248 a brokerage firm in Arcadia, Florida that insists there are ways around the deal.
Last summer, the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas accused the Florida Tomato Exchange of pressuring the US Department of Commerce to change the definition of free on board or FOB in connection with the agreement, which, according to the organization, would increase prices.
“The Florida Tomato Exchange is not seeking to renegotiate or change the 2019 agreement,” Michael Schadler, executive vice president of Florida Tomato Exchange, responded in a press release.
“We just want the language and the rules to be applied as they were drafted and accepted in 2019 by the Commerce Department and the Mexican tomato industry. Otherwise, this deal will fail like all the others before it.
The benchmark price includes expenses incurred in Mexico as well as all expenses incurred on the US side of the border.
Jimmy Connell, President of Keith Connell, Inc., BB #: 105626 of Kansas City, MO, is a tomato broker. About 80 percent of its annual tomato supply comes from Mexico.
Connell owns a warehouse in Nogales and rents one from McAllen. “We thought about buying our own warehouse from McAllen instead of renting it. We’re just trying to find the right location.
The company distributes nationally, with a concentration in the Midwest and Upper Midwest, and primarily in the restaurant industry.
Connell believes that the tomato suspension deal only benefits a few. “It hurts the American end user in the long run,” he explains, “because you have to pay higher prices for Mexican tomatoes.
“Mexican shippers are frustrated with all the paperwork involved,” adds Connell, “and some have reduced their harvest. Less harvest will increase prices. Although it has not yet happened, he says, “We will see. “
This is an excerpt from the Tomato Spotlight in the November / December 2021 issue of Produce Blueprints Magazine. Click here to read the full issue.