US (AZ): Nogales produce imports surged in 2015-16

Nogales produce imports reached a five-year high this past season thanks to improved infrastructure at the port and an increase in volume coming from Mexico due to the drought in western U.S. states, according to a report released by the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.

The report, which was presented during the 48th Nogales Produce Convention held Nov. 3-5, showed that 6.3 billion pounds of fruits and vegetables – 17 percent of U.S. global imports – crossed through the Nogales port of entry during the 2015-16 produce season. In comparison, 5.9 billion pounds of produce were imported during the 2014-15 season.

The report also showed that tomato imports surged locally and that there was a second peak in the produce season between late April and June, in part because of grape and watermelon imports.

“Tomatoes have started a new growth phase, separating themselves from watermelons, the number two item in Nogales,” said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the FPAA, during a panel where importers broke down the report and discussed the upcoming season. “This is reflective of the continued growth in romas, and persisting strong demand for round reds.”

During the discussion, the panel suggested that grape imports could also continue growing in the coming seasons as companies import a variety of grapes.

“A few years ago we had only three or four white, or green, varieties of grapes with any volume in Mexico,” said panelist Mikee Suarez of MAS Melons and Grapes. “Now we see 10 or more varietals being grown with interesting and new flavor profiles.”


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