MexFresh Produce LLC
Based in McAllen, Texas, Tom-Ver LLC dba MexFresh Produce LLC is supplying a burgeoning U.S. produce market with year-round stock of Mexican-grown tomatoes, cucumbers, lemons, limes, jalapenos and more. Since opening a U.S. cold-storage facility and distribution center in 2012, MexFresh has rapidly excelled in the states.
“We have doubled in sales and volume over the last year and we expect to do it again in 2015,” reveals Alejandro Rodriguez, managing member of MexFresh. Sourcing from contract growers throughout fertile Mexican regions, MexFresh maintains a year-round supply of fresh produce.
Rodriguez, who runs the company’s McAllen operation, says the business is on the fast-track for rapid growth. “In five years, I see us opening a west coast location to supply more west coast customers,” he says.
A South Texas gateway
The move to McAllen has allowed for increased distribution and reach within the U.S. for MexFresh. “Our mission is total customer satisfaction and maintaining a healthy working environment, so it made sense for us to bring more aspects of production in-house,” says Rodriguez. “Since setting up the McAllen site in 2012 we have more control over the quality of our product; how it’s handled and treated before it goes onto our customers.”
Over the last several years, the McAllen-Pharr, Texas, area has blossomed with a range of produce companies setting up shop, making the region a sort of produce powerhouse.
Thanks to the construction of the “Supervia” I-69C/US Hwy 281 corridor, a highway linking Mexico to South Texas, the lower Rio Grande Valley region, particularly in Pharr, is booming with Mexican-grown imports and MexFresh is jumping on the bandwagon. Prime positioning in McAllen has allowed MexFresh to import product and turn it over faster and fresher than before. “Our McAllen location is super convenient, allowing for fast, efficient product transport,” says Rodriguez.
Sourcing from all over Mexico, the majority of MexFresh’s imports are tomatoes and limes. “I’d say it breaks down to about 70 percent tomatoes, 20 percent limes and 10 percent cucumbers and other items,” says Rodriguez. “We are continuously investing with new growers to offer a wider variety of fresh produce to satisfy our costumers’ needs. In the next year, we will widen our line of commodities to include; squash, jalapeno peppers, pickles and green beans, among others.”
For now, MexFresh supplies retailers, repackers and processors throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and parts of Canada and the Southeast as well. “Opening a California-based distribution center would allow us to penetrate west coast markets,” says Rodriguez. “That’s about five years down the road at this stage though.” MexFresh outsources its transportation logistics. “We use other companies to ship our products directly to retailers,” says Rodriguez. “Some of our products that don’t go directly to store shelves end up going to processors and companies that do value-added items.”
From shipping to the source of production, Rodriguez says maintaining contact and good working relationships with the company’s grower-partners is an important aspect of success for MexFresh. “Our grower-partners are vital to supply, which is why I regularly take trips down to meet with them face to face,” he says. “I think this is one of our biggest strengths as a company –strong relationships with growers.”
MexFresh is hoping these relationships, backed by the construction of the Supervia highway, which cuts the time it takes for product to ship from Mexico nearly in half, will lead to success well beyond the East Coast. “There are always challenges in this business,” says Rodriguez. “There are more regulations than there used to be and every step of the process has to be certified, but food safety and traceability are really important to us. We’re willing to show our customers exactly where something came from. Our hope is that keeping up with these demands and filling our current customers’ needs will allow for future expansion.”
Rodriguez says MexFresh has its sights set on the West Coast within the next five years. “For now, we’re working on establishing ourselves in McAllen,” he says. “Our end goal is to be one of the top produce distributors and have our brands recognized by retailers across America.”
While MexFresh is still establishing itself in the market, the company continues to grow at a good clip. “We saw double-digit growth last year and I think there is more of that to come,” measures Rodriguez.
With the expansion of the produce corridor in McAllen and Pharr, MexFresh Produce LLC is well positioned to maintain grower relationships and plant the seed for success in more U.S. markets.