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University of Arizona research:

US study says tomato imports lead to billions of dollars of revenue

Thinking about imports, people often equate this to money leaving the US and going into another country's coffers. But researchers at the University of Arizona have found that importing goods can boost the US economy.

The University of Arizona's Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics researchers tracked how importing fresh tomatoes from Mexico affected the US economy.

Researcher Dari Duval says the results were sizeable: "We found that imports of fresh tomatoes supported $4.8 billion in sales in the US economy in 2016. That works out to 2.9 billion in gross domestic product and, finally, 33,000 jobs were supported through that economic activity.”

And then there are indirect effects, not so predictable according to Duval: "Through the multiplier effect we see industries that are seemingly unrelated. For example, we found that roughly 500 jobs were supported in hospitals and that's a result of individuals directly employed in these industries going and spending their pay checks on household needs."

She says the findings demonstrate that even though the produce was grown elsewhere, imported goods support economic activity, jobs, and income in the US.

She added that each country adds to the value chain; from seed genetics to cultivation, to logistics, to distribution to the final consumer, resulting in economic activity on both sides of the border.

According to, the study found the top US industries affected include food and beverage retail, wholesale, real estate, restaurants, and employment services.

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