Michoacán berries lacking labor
Located in western Mexico, the state of Michoacán is home to most of the country’s berry production, occupying second place among the top international growers.
According to 2022 Agri-food Landscape, Mexico’s annual publication showcasing relevant industry data, Michoacán berries account for 15% of global berry exports, with the U.S., Canada and Japan among its main destination markets.
The sector drives $3.55 billion in revenue, however, a persistent lack of labor could stall exports in the near future.
The Tames are one of the Mexican families dedicated to berries in Michoacán, as they produced these crops for decades in Zamora de Hidalgo city, and are associated with Driscoll's.
“We started with Driscoll's twenty or twenty-five years ago, with a progressive growth, and now we are growing every year. Currently, we have around 400 hectares of berries," says Benjamín Tames, managing director at Agrícola Los Espinos .
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Los Espinos grows around 2,500,000 tons of strawberries every year, 900,000 tons of blueberries and another 800,000 for raspberries.
“We don't have enough people to be able to cope with the large amount of work we have. And that has forced us to have shelters for national migrant workers," says Tames.
Tames shares that his firm makes an effort to provide formal labor and good conditions, which of course takes up a lot of resources.
“We do not have sufficient fiscal and labor support from the authorities for this to continue to be a business, because after all, more than 1,500 families live here every year,” he adds.
Agrícola Los Espinos’ berries are food-safety certified and, in partnering with Driscoll’s, Tames shares that they provide labor certifications and comply with all legal and procedural requirements.
Along with their partner company Agrícola Los Sabinos, they provide work for about 1,700 people.