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Nogales Fresco

Profiling the produce portal of the Southwest

“In California you have to have new equipment,” said Anthony Garcia, president at Border Transport, Inc. “Not only do the trailers need to be modified, but there’s a new emissions filter needed, too. It can cost $10,000 to update a unit, and a lot of smaller truckers don’t have the money to take care of those updates.”

Further, Garcia pointed out that in addition to equipment requirements, hours of service electronic log restrictions now make a trip from Nogales to California a two-day excursion instead of an overnighter.

“Once you turn on the truck, the e-log starts tracking your time,” Garcia explains. “You’ve got ten hours in the truck before you need to take a break. Well, if the truck needs to come down from Phoenix, by the time it gets here, and then takes four to five hours to load in Nogales, you’ve used up your time and can’t go anywhere until the next day.”

To deal with the time issue, drivers and suppliers coordinate as much as possible to have loads ready to go. Another option is to have two drivers in the truck, but this increases labor costs.

Adrian Gonzalez, Jr., who handles sales at Righetti Farms, LLC says all these factors lead to fewer available trucks, which raises rates. “The turnaround takes a little longer; a driver going from Nogales to Los Angeles may not be able to do that again the next day. You can do a load to Seattle from Nogales in two days if you really push the logs, but then you would have to rest before coming back.”

April Batriz, general manager at BJ Brothers Produce, LLC, says the company hires California-compliant transporters, and further explains, “Our products either go directly to clients or right to our cold storage facility in Anaheim.”

Arizona or Texas?
While Nogales to California has its timing complications, they are greatly compounded by longer distances, such as to the East Coast or Canada. Many consider Texas better suited for delivery to the East and Southeast, and some distributors are considering expanding or have already extended their operations to address this issue.