The Viva Fresh Expo organized by TIPA (Texas International Produce Association) was recently held in the city of Dallas. This event is focused on the promotion of fresh foods, specifically fruits and vegetables. There are, as we have mentioned before, other important expos in the US and in the world that are relevant for growers in Sinaloa, such as the PMA (now International Fresh Produce Association) and the Foodex in Japan.
However, Viva Fresh had a different and original format. This event was based on “Networking”, that is, looking for spaces to have contact with people of interest, generally in a relaxed atmosphere. Of the 3 days of the Viva, two of them included golf tournaments, talks, lunches, cocktails and dinners; as well as offering spaces for private meetings. It was only on the last day, in the afternoon, when more than 200 stands provided the opportunity to present the agribusinesses. This event had the participation of more than 2200 attendees, of which more than 400 were supermarkets and important buyers. And unlike the PMA show, for example, the spaces and moments of “Networking” were all in the same place, facilitating the participation and interaction of all attendees.
And why is this event important for the people of Sinaloa?
The northeastern U.S. has been a high consumption and high value market for vegetables for decades. Sinaloa’s main port of departure to the U.S., the city of Nogales, was less competitive to reach this region than growers in Florida. However, this changed radically in 2012 with the completion of the Baluarte bridge on the Mazatlán-Durango highway, which reduced the time and cost to reach Texas (specifically McAllen) and therefore the east coast of North America. Little by little, Sinaloense growers ventured to export via Texas, finding, due to the high quality of their products and processes, an excellent reception by buyers.
In addition, with the opening of Mexican avocado exports to the U.S., Texas became the most important export port for this crop. By volume, the main fruits and vegetables exported via Texas are avocado, lemon, tomato, mango, cucumber, broccoli, bell bell pepper, papaya, carrot, strawberry, banana and pineapple. As you can see, products also come from the Bajio and Veracruz. According to Texas importers’ organizations, Texas imports more than $8 billion dollars worth of fruits and vegetables each year that end up on the plates of consumers throughout the United States. For the past few years, more volume has been exported through Texas than through Arizona.
Thus, little by little, the port of McAllen has become more and more important for Sinaloa’s growers. Several have even opened points of sale in McAllen. Some were seen at Viva Fresh closing deals for the 2022-2023 season.