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Experts say border crisis may soon impact fruit & vegetable prices

US-Mexico border issues could soon start having impact

Now that wait times have increased on border crossings, because of a shift in personnel to address the border crisis, it's been tougher for US companies to bring fresh fruits and vegetables from Mexico. According to experts, that will impact prices.

Fruit and vegetable distributors that stock the shelves of grocery stores throughout America, including tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, carrots, pineapples, among others —rely on farms in Mexico for that produce. Forty-three percent of all US fruit and vegetables come from Mexico, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

“(The) Mexican border, it’s one of the most important crossings to the United States,” said Joshua Duran, Amore Produce sales representative.

But over the past three weeks, distributor Amore Produce truck drivers carrying that produce have seen up to three times the wait at the border, stuck in sometimes 15 hours of log-jam traffic to cross into the US as they carry produce in their trucks. Duran said truck drivers are seeing only one or two gates open at the border.

“Now we are having a lot of problems in the border,” Duran said. “So, let’s say we used to have like five hours. We’re getting 10 or 15 hours to pass that truck to the United States…one or two (gates) are not enough to get all the entire trucks coming from Mexico and not only for produce, for all the products that people here in the United States get from Mexico.”

It’s caused the McAllen produce distributor, located just 20 minutes from the border, to have less produce than usual. Duran said the company is not able to deliver the fresh produce to the 10 states they distribute to, including Florida, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Colorado—because their truck drivers are waiting longer which gives more time for the produce to rot quicker and not make it fresh to the consumer. “We couldn’t get it here and we couldn’t send it to the customers in the north,” Duran said.

Marabella Produce owner Alejandro Knight has to throw produce out because by the time it gets to him, he notices they will spoil when they’re delivered to the customer and hit grocery store shelves. “We cannot deliver a fresh product anymore if we have to wait for each load to cross, five to six days, it's impossible to work like this.”

Knight told that Mexican growers are now ‘afraid’ to send the fruit (and veggies) because of the border wait time, so they keep the produce in Mexico.

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