Texas border inspections: Normalization of produce supply chains could take weeks
The produce industry may have breathed a sigh of relief on Friday when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's put an end to the lengthier border inspections he had implemented days earlier, but it may be weeks before the supply chain gets back to normal.
The immigration policy decision resulted in gridlock and hundreds of millions of lost dollars and delays in shipments including produce items such as avocados and strawberries.
Abbott's move ultimately created a logjam of trucks between the U.S. and its largest goods trading partner. Vegetable producers say their produce is spoiling in idling trucks and they are losing hundreds of millions of dollars.
Nearly$9 billion of fresh produce crosses the Texas border from Mexico each year, said Dante L. Galeazzi, CEO and president of the Texas International Produce Association.And for the past week, that produce has been held hostage, with businesses and goods "being used as bargaining chips," Galeazzi was quoted as saying.
What used to be a routine border crossing turned into a 30-hour wait for some trucks. Meanwhile, the fruits and vegetables in those trucks spoiled, leaving some produce department shelves sparse or empty in advance of the holiday weekend, he said.
"It could take a week or longer, up to probably three weeks, before the supply chain realigns," Galeazzi said.
Losses to fruit and vegetable producers are estimated to be more than $240 million, said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.
Consumers will also pay a price as producers look to recoup some of their losses and supplies run low.
Americans can expect to spend more on strawberries, avocados and asparagus as soon as this weekend, with the impacts being felt the heaviest in the Midwest and Northeast, Jungmeyer said.
It could ultimately take several weeks for supply chains to recover from the weeklong slowdown at the border, said Matthew Hockenberry, a Fordham University assistant professor who studies supply chains and logistics.
"It's also just so hard to predict, because there's so much supply instability right now," he said, noting that China's latest wave of lockdowns and the war in Ukraine are causing even more disruptions.
"The amount of supply uncertainty is so high that to add another straw here to the camel's back is a dangerous proposition."