First shipments of U.S. fresh potatoes to Mexico in 25-plus years

May 20, 2022
Author: Zindziwe Janse

Earlier this month the United States has begun exporting potatoes to Mexico, beyond the 26-kilometer border zone that previously marked the limit of their export.

This was announced on May 12 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Mexico’s national plant protection organization (SENASICA).

Better markets for U.S. farmers
Late last year, the U.S. and Mexico reached an agreement to expand market access for U.S. potatoes. According to USDA, the U.S. has sought for this market expansion for more than 25 years. ‘Through this accomplishment, we are delivering better markets for U.S. farmers, supporting economic growth, and providing access to our southern neighbors to the high-quality and safe products our farmers work hard every day to grow and sustain. USDA will continue to fight for new and expanded markets for American products as we help the nation build back better’, says USDA’s Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Market potential of 250 million dollar per year
According to the National Potato Council (NPC), Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. potatoes and products, valued at 394 million dollar in 2021. Despite the previous restriction to the 26-kilometer border region, Mexico was the second-largest market for fresh potato exports in 2021, accounting for 124,449 metric tons valued at 60 million dollar last year. The U.S. potato industry estimates that, in five years, this newly gained access for fresh potatoes from the U.S. to all of Mexico, will provide a market potential of 250 million dollar per year, an increase of 190 million dollar from the current export value.

Signaling the start of restoring full market access
The NPC welcomes the news that the first shipments of U.S. fresh potatoes crossed into Mexico on May 11. ‘The successful crossings signal the start of Mexico’s process to restore full market access for U.S. fresh potatoes after decades of disputes and legal obstructions’, the council states. ‘This is an important moment for the U.S. potato industry and our partners in the federal government who have fought for decades to restore access to this vital market, but we know the work is not over if we are to keep the border open’, adds NPC President and Washington state potato grower Jared Balcom.

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