Avocado company puts millions into Texas facility, investors uneasy

California avocado company invests millions in Texas facility despite uncertainty of NAFTA

PHARR, Texas --- The price of your avocados could be in for a jump if changes are made to the free trade agreement between Mexico, Canada, and the U.S.

Both sides of the border are uneasy about it.

With shovel and dirt, border officials from Pharr, Texas and representatives from the trade and distribution company “Index Fresh” break ground on a new facility to store and ripen Mexican avocados.

The coveted fruit has been a focus of a proposed tariff earlier this year to pay for a border wall

For 15 years, Index Fresh, a California-based company, has moved avocados from Mexico into the U.S. Their expansion in Texas comes at a time when the Mexican, Canadian, and U.S. governments are preparing to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). 

This makes Dana Thomas, the company’s president, feel uneasy.

“I want a climate that is friendly to trade and also I want certainty about what the rules are going to be,” Thomas said.

Like Thomas, U.S. Investors are hoping the trade talks work in their favor, recognizing the importance of trading with our partners to the south.

That is why border cities like Pharr, are moving aggressively to protect their investments.

“We want jobs here too and we’re creating them, this is a perfect example of that,” Pharr International Bridge Director Luis Bazan said.

City leaders here are putting the pressure on Washington to build on the agreement rather than tear it down.

“That’s why we’re getting in front of the right people to make the right changes and looking at this as an opportunity to do the right thing,” Bazan added.

In neighboring Alamo, people like Luis Franco are at the tail end of all of this. He’s depending on the sale of his uncle’s produce, including avocados, to pay for school books.

The high school junior says he has seen the prices of avocado skyrocket this year. He sells them for $1.50 a pound.

“They’re expensive, you know?” Franco said. “They [customers] just take one, maybe 2, and that’s about it.”

The price of imported avocado has doubled compared to this time last year to an average of $30 per 22 lbs. according to data from the Mexican government, mostly due to the rising demand and shorter supply.

Any additional price hikes could further hurt business across the board. From imports to distribution to what you pay at the grocery store.

Trade officials will have until August to come up with a plan that will satisfy all parties. A difficult task if it is to please everyone from the Mexican farmer to the American businessman.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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