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Tex-Mex frozen food transport venture: it really is very much a two-way street.

Do you think the frozen food trade between Mexico and the United States all goes one way? Think again! Ask Casey Quiroz, acting manager of Intermex Logistics, a joint venture in FF transport between refrigerated warehouses in Texas and Mexico.

"We're moving five or six loads of pizza a week, and maybe two loads of frozen dinners and poultry," said Quiroz, and those are shipments to Mexico. Those pizzas, manufactured in Ohio by Gelardi, can now go straight to Frialsa Frigorificos S.A., Mexico City's partner in the joint venture with Loop Cold Storage Co., San Antonio, Texas. Frozen poultry exporters include such familiar names as Tyson and Pilgrim.

"Our exports to Mexico outweigh our imports from Mexico," Quiroz told Quick Frozen Foods International. "People up in the north have the wrong conception of what's going on down here." The prevailing conception he referred to is that all Mexico does is flood the United States market with frozen vegetables, while buying little or nothing in return. While it's true that Mexico exports a lot of frozen vegetables, and the USA companies like Green Giant and Campbell are increasing production there, Mexico is also becoming an importer of not only processed frozen foods but commodities like string beans, celery and cabbage.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) won't make any difference in the short run, even if it is ratified quickly, Quiroz explained, because it allows tariffs to be phased out over 10 years -- and has an escape clause permitting Mexico to reimpose them any time it sees fit. What is already making a difference, he said, is Intermex. Previously, it was necessary for American companies to ship directly to customers in Mexico. It wasn't worth it to most of them to go thousands of miles to deliver small loads. But now they can ship large loads to the Frialsa Frigorificos warehouse, which serves as a distribution center just like any warehouse in the United States.

Intermex supplies all the refrigerated vehicles used, even those for deliveries from the Mexico City warehouse to Mexican customers. The joint venture is seeking to get approval for Frialsa Frigorificos as a bonded warehouse, Quiroz revealed, so that customers won't have to pay customs duties until their orders are actually delivered, instead of paying when the goods enter the country as part of consolidated shipments. Meanwhile, he said, export business is so good that companies like Tyson and Pilgrim have opened local sales offices in Mexico to cultivate it.

Intermex isn't the only new venture in refrigerated transport to and from Mexico. The TLC Group, Zeeland, Michigan, has formed a "strategic partnership" with Transportes Especializados, a Mexican firm owned by the de la Torres family. The partnership allows "through-trailer" service between the United States, and Mexico; previously, goods had to be transferred from a U.S.-owned trailer to a Mexican-owned trailer at the border. That was an inconvenience at best, but it must have been worse for frozen food, which could suffer thermal abuse during the transfer. TLC plans to start building a refrigerated warehouse in the Mexico City area this summer or fall; in the meantime, it is giving advanced training to the de la Torres drivers, which presumably includes instruction on the care and handling of frozen food.
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Title Annotation:Intermex Logistics
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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