New Texas warehouse and Baja tomato production for Delta Fresh
- by Tad Thompson | November 29, 2019
rio rico, az — Cold warehouse construction in south Texas and vast new hothouse tomato production in Baja highlight growth developments for Delta Fresh Sales LLC.
It was in the last week of October that Thanasi Panousopoulos, a third generation member of the company, plans to begin work next year on construction of a 250,000-square-foot Pharr, TX, warehouse. This will be completed in 2022.
On Nov. 5, he signed a contract to produce a large Roma crop in Baja. Baja will produce from June to December, “which is the time period we need” to complement Delta’s tomato sourcing in Mexican wintertime production areas.
Delta Fresh already operates a large warehouse space in south Texas. But this new operation is crucial for inventory management.
He credits the city of Pharr, which owns the Pharr International Bridge with “being very friendly in helping” build the Texas Delta Fresh warehouse.
In the summertime Delta Fresh will focus on Texas distribution because there is more summertime activity there than in Nogales. This creates much better opportunities for shipping partial loads.
“There are more trucks in McAllen during the summer,” he noted. “Demand has exploded in McAllen, with more products. Berries and so forth.”
With less Nogales transportation availability in the summertime, it becomes necessary to ship full truckloads of product. This tends to limit sales options.
Panousopoulos stressed that Nogales will continue to be an important crossing point. “There is a lot of demand in the West, too. It’s the fifth-biggest economy, right next to us!”
Another aspect of Delta Fresh growth is recent negotiations to receive product from two large Sonora growers.
“If we are not aggressive with new growers, someone else will be. As long as we are growing, we can defend ourselves if someone is trying to take our groceries from us. If I start feeling comfortable, it’s time for me to retire.”
Last year “was a decent season” in the Mexican vegetable business. “I’m excited for this year, but it will be a little more complicated for inspections.”
Panousopoulos is concerned about the availability of USDA border inspectors in the face of new regulations for Mexican tomatoes. Inspectors in Nogales are already scarce during the springtime grape deal.
Of the Tomato Suspension Agreement negotiations, Panousopoulos said, “It’s a deal we made on both sides. No one is happy. But it will eliminate some of the product we don’t want in the market. TSA is what it is. I don’t think it will get the results they expect.”