Grocery stores in some parts of the U.S. are expected to start running out of certain perishable goods as soon as this weekend because of a Mexican truckers’ blockade that has stranded millions of dollars worth of fresh produce.
Roughly $150 million worth of fruit and vegetables are stalled south of the U.S.-Mexico border amid a protest over Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s controversial vehicle-inspection program, according to Texas International Produce Association. The blockade, which entered its fourth day on Thursday, is impeding delivery of things like avocados, limes, tomatoes, cucumbers and mangoes.
“Going into this Easter weekend, consumers are going to see store shelves devoid of certain items,” said Dante L. Galeazzi, chief executive officer of the TIPA.
The first impacts probably will be seen in the Midwest and along the East Coast, he added. Although commercial traffic has resumed at the initial blockade site, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, local media reported that truckers were shifting their focus to other crossing sites.
“Some retailers, particularly those in the grocery industry, have experienced supply chain delays resulting from the extended wait times along the Texas-Mexico border,” John McCord, executive director of the Texas Retailers Association, wrote in an email.
Little more than a week ago, Abbott ordered state troopers to begin inspecting northbound Mexican commercial trucks to bolster highway safety in the Lone Star state. Although 25% of inspected vehicles were taken off the road because of bad brakes and other defects, the reaction from business interests and politicians on both sides of the border has been fierce.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, a Republican like Abbott, was among the first to sound the alarm, warning earlier this week that the dispute would trigger food shortages and push the price of avocados to $5 apiece.
Meanwhile, temperatures along the border have hovered close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius), making it hard for refrigerated trucks to keep fresh produce cool enough to avoid spoilage.
Abbott said on Wednesday that he’s seeking to replicate agreements with Mexican state governors like the one he signed with the leader of Nuevo Leon that would see Texas inspections halted in exchange for increased vigilance south of the border.
McCord of the retailers association said he’s seeing “signs of a more normalized delivery schedule due to the agreement reached between Governors Abbott and Garcia on Wednesday.”
“The movement of agricultural goods and other products is vital to the Texas agriculture industry and important supply chains,” said Gary Joiner, a spokesman for the Texas Farm Bureau. “We are encouraged by the recent agreement in the Laredo region that is facilitating movement and inspections at the port of entry. We hope other similar measures and agreements can be achieved at other points of entry.”
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