Recently, the Congressional Research Service released a report analyzing the United State’s fresh produce industry. The U.S. Trade Situation for Fruit and Vegetable Products highlights the overwhelming gap between the growth rate of imported fresh and processed produce versus the exported rate of these goods.
America’s expanding dependency on foreign produce, and goods in general, gave way to a more open and competitive market, which has shaped global trade trends. The signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the 1990s allowed for better access of more imported goods. It lowered average import tariffs in the U.S and included duty free or preferential duty rates for larger suppliers. The barriers that often made importing goods a hassle were moved aside. Meaning, inspection requirements, technical standards and SPS requirements were reduced. Foreign investments were made possible as well to expand the industry. America’s year-round demand for seasonal fruits and vegetables that cannot be produced domestically also called for increased production and imports.
The agreement opened the door for multiple industries, particularly the fresh produce sector. Since then, the value of exported fruits and vegetables from the U.S. has nearly doubled. In contrast, imports to the U.S far exceeded their value by showing more than triple in gains. The Southern Hemisphere comprises the bulk of produce imports. While domestically grown fruits and vegetables are a growing trend, they cannot be compared to the sheer quantity that is continuously imported for distribution in America.
The decision to facilitate foreign exchange policies between geographically close areas has also greatly impacted the economy. Border states are still benefitting in job growth and financial gain from a constantly growing import and export market. Cities like Pharr, Texas, have adapted by creating more cold storage facilities for better distribution and new traffic lanes in their international bridges for faster and efficient flow of commercial vehicles. Imports in the fresh produce sector are predicted to continue to increase in the following years to satiate America’s hunger for fruits and vegetables.
For questions regarding our state-of-the-art cold storage facilities and distribution methods, contact Fred Sandoval from the Pharr produce district 956.402.4332.