Pharr International Bridge Hosts Annual Start of the Produce Season Ceremony
- by Chandler James
PHARR, TX - Breaking bread is one of the most symbolic ways to kick off a meal, but in this industry, we like to cut fruit. Pharr International Bridge recently held a fruit-cutting ceremony to kick off the season, gathering with distinguished industry leaders on Thursday, October 8 for an event that streamed on the City of Pharr’s YouTube channel. To learn more about the event and all that Pharr brings to the produce industry, I had the chance to chat with Luis Bazán, Bridge Director.
“For the last seven years, we have put together a program called the Start Of The Produce Season, and it's basically a kickoff for the season, which starts in October,” he began. “We usually have it in early October outside of the bridge facilities and bring in special guests and speakers as well as several representatives from all sectors of the industry, primarily importers. These are folks that have also invested in the city of Pharr by building warehouses and cold storage facilities for their produce. We invite all our produce importers to donate a certain amount of produce that we can give away at the end of the event.”
The Texas International Produce Association (TIPA) has participated in this ceremony in past years, but the event is run solely by the Pharr International Bridge. Dante Galeazzi, President and CEO of TIPA, noted the importance of such an event in a recent press release.
“This is always a great event and brings a lot of attention not only to the bridge that crosses the most fresh produce in all of the United States but it also brings a lot of attention to the industry and specifically the partnerships and economic-unity that is a key to the fresh produce infrastructure in our state and throughout North America,” Galeazzi said.
Luis went on to explain that Pharr holds this annual event because a few years ago, the organization was named the number one produce bridge in Texas, based on produce that originates in Mexico. Looking at January to September, about 65 percent of the nation's produce crosses through Texas land ports of entry, so this location is quite a hotspot. This year alone, Pharr International has brought in at least 15,000 shipments of produce per month, which is significantly above average.
“In 2013 we started putting together a study to gauge how the Pharr International Bridge can best serve its partners. World City, a publisher based out of Miami, compiled and provided us with all of the data that customs brokers submitted to the U.S. census. With that data, we were able to view our ranking of different types of products, the value of those products, and how we compare to other land ports of entry,” Luis explained. “In the United States, there's roughly 485 land ports, airports, and seaports, and right now, the Pharr bridge is ranked 29th in the nation. We're the seventh largest and fastest growing land-based port of entry in the nation, and, as of last year, we became the third largest trade hub in Texas behind Laredo and El Paso ports.”
Primely positioned to transport shipments in the Rio Grande Valley, Pharr International’s top import category is fresh produce. According to Luis, Pharr is the number one port for avocado imports, with super bowl season being its busiest time of year. Pharr’s other high-volume categories include berries, tomatoes, and bell peppers.
With a fresh produce partner like Pharr, international shipments of fruit and vegetables are sure to arrive at retail in perfect condition. This may be just the industry alliance you’ve been looking for, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with Pharr International Bridge for all of your import needs.