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Borderlands: Mission Produce boosts market footprint with Texas avocado import facility

Mission Produce recently opened a 274,000-square-foot facility serves as the company’s hub for avocados imported from Mexico. (Photo: A M King)

Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: Mission Produce boosts market footprint with Texas avocado import facility; cross-border rail ferry makes maiden voyage; Magni opens new logistics facility in Texas; and CBP intercepts $24M worth of meth.

Mission Produce opens US-Mexico border avocado import facility

Mission Produce Inc. recently opened a $50 million distribution center in Laredo, Texas, aimed at expanding its market reach across the country.

The 274,000-square-foot facility serves as the company’s hub for avocados imported from Mexico, according to Steve Barnard, Mission’s founder and CEO.

“Our new facility in Laredo opens up many doors for us at Mission,” Barnard said during the grand opening Wednesday. “The strategic location serves as the perfect connection between our operations in Mexico and our customers in the U.S.”

Barnard also said the facility will increase Mission’s third-party storage and distribution capabilities for other importers.

The distribution center includes:

  • 10 ripening rooms with capacity for 36 more.
  • 2,600 pallets for fruit ripening.
  • A dedicated mango room for the company’s newest product line introduced in 2021.
  • 40 dock doors for trucks.
  • A dry goods storage area.
  • Bagging and production areas.
  • Border Patrol and U.S. Department of Agriculture offices.

The distribution center currently employs 70 workers and is expected to reach 110 employees at full capacity by the end of 2026. 

The facility is in Laredo’s Pinnacle Industry Center on 32.6 acres adjacent to the Rio Grande River and the U.S.-Mexico border.

More than $4.2 billion worth of fresh produce was imported during 2020 from Mexico through Laredo’s World Trade Bridge port of entry, including nearly $1 billion worth of avocados.

Laredo’s Outbound Tender Volume Index (OTVI.LRD) — a measure of shipper requests for truckload capacity — fell over 6% this week. The Outbound Tender Rejection Index (OTRI.LRD) — the rate at which these requests are rejected by carriers — dropped from around 13% on Sept. 6 to 7% on Thursday in Laredo.

 Chart: FreightWaves SONAR (To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.)

The decline in Laredo’s demand for capacity and rejection rates could be following a seasonal lull. Toward the end of September, freight volumes and spot rates tend to soften slightly before ramping up heading into the traditional peak holiday season.

Mission Produce, founded in 1983,  is a produce supplier, grower, marketer and distributor specializing in avocados grown in California, along with Mexico and Peru.

Headquartered in Oxnard, California, Mission Produce has 3,700 employees working in facilities in the U.S., Mexico and Peru.

New cross-border rail ferry makes maiden voyage

CG Railway (CGR) recently launched the Cherokee, a rail ferry that completed its first trip from the Port of Mobile in Alabama to the Port of Coatzacoalcos in Veracruz, Mexico.

The Cherokee is 590 feet long and can carry up to 135 railcars. It is capable of handling a wide range of commodities, including food-grade agricultural products.

CG Railway recently launched the Cherokee, a rail ferry which can carry up to 135 railcars. (Photo: CG Railway)

The Cherokee’s maiden voyage included hauling 122 railcars to the Port of Coatzacoalcos on Sept. 15. The vessel began its return trip from Coatzacoalcos on Sept. 18, with 130 railcars on board. It docked in Mobile three days later.

“The rail ferry transported more than 22,500 tons of chemicals, plastics, pulp and paper, agricultural products, and food,” Todd Biscan, CGR’s vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement. 

Mobile, Alabama-based CGR operates as a U.S. Class III railroad. It transports 10,000 carloads of commodities annually across the Gulf of Mexico, with long-term agreements to operate purpose-built rail-ferry terminals in the ports of Mobile and Coatzacoalcos. CGR is a joint venture between Genesee & Wyoming Inc. and Seacor Holdings Inc. 

CGR also took delivery of an identical new rail ferry, the Mayan, in September. It is expected to enter into service by the end of the year, replacing CGR’s existing vessel, the Banda Sea.

Magni opens new logistics facility in Texas

Magni Telescopic Handlers recently acquired a 21,000-square-foot facility in Pasadena, Texas, just south of Houston.

Magni will use the facility as its main logistics hub for the distribution of spare parts and machines for the Western half of the U.S., the company said in a release

“The building was chosen because of its highly strategic geographic position with easy access to both the Port of Galveston and major airports. Purchased along with the building is a total of 4.15 acres which will allow for future growth as needed,” the company said.

Italy-based Magni manufactures industrial machines such as towers, lifts and hydraulic cranes. 

CBP intercepts $24M worth of meth in South Texas

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Eagle Pass port of entry in Texas recently stopped a shipment of methamphetamine from crossing the border.

On Sept. 23, CBP officers at the Camino Real Cargo Facility in Eagle Pass were searching a tractor hauling an empty box trailer arriving from Mexico. Officers discovered 1,221 pounds of alleged methamphetamine within the walls of the trailer. 

The alleged narcotics have a street value of over $24 million.

CBP officers seized the tractor, trailer and narcotics. 

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]