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Mexico: Organic produce to supply North American consumers
Increased organic supply has competition getting fierce – the future of Mexican grown organic produce will include smaller gaps in supply and long-term seasonal pricing. It will be good for the end customer but will create more challenges for organic producers.
Competition between small growers and conglomerates
"Smaller organic growers must be smart to compete with larger conglomerates that have primarily conventional acreage and the infrastructure and history to turn out large volumes with lower production costs," says Oscar Trujillo of Bridges produce. Bridges Produce is in the midst of their extensive Mexican program; primary partners are Rico Farms and Floriza En Los Parajes. Commodities supplied by these farms include zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant (October – May), bell peppers (January-April), hot peppers (October-June), melons (November-December & April-June) and hard squash. Bridges’ robust year-round hard squash program (acorn, butternut, spaghetti, kabocha and delicata) is sourced domestically during the late summer/early fall to compliment the Mexican growing season.
Bridges Produce has thousands of acres in production at any given time between the Rico Farms label and the Aztlan label. “We’re definitely adding acreage every season,” says Trujillo. Bridges Produce’s supply rotates between three growing regions as they move through the season. “Prices have become more aggressive as there is more competition over the past couple of years. It’s becoming more of a buyer’s market.”
Trujillo is continually impressed by the quality of organics turned out, and the professionalism of the growers. “Our Mexican growers are top tier,” he says. “They’re pros, they have extensively studied organics and agriculture, they’re trained engineers and they take their jobs very seriously.” Rico Farms for example has an onsite lab and does their own routine testing for pathogens. “The farm is state of the art, plus it is certified Fair Trade and has extensive employee benefits such as continuing education programs,” he says about Rico Farms which provides Bridge’s Produce with melons, eggplants, green beans, cucumbers, hot peppers, and squash.
More production throughout Mexico does mean more food on the tables of consumers but also the possibility for produce to remain unsold. Trujillo’s advice on mitigating food waste is to, “get more feedback and get more involved at the farm level, don’t sit back and react to what’s happening. Growers and marketers must collect data and be more strategic in crop planning and selling programs to better match market demand.”
For more information:
Ph: (520) 761-1977
Publication date: 3/2/2018
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