There May Be a Nationwide Produce Shortage After $150 Million In Shipments Was Delayed

Extended inspections of trucks at the US/Mexico border are causing significant shipping delays.

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At the US/ Mexico border, there is currently about $150 million worth of produce unable to enter the US and make its way to American grocery stores. This issue, which could result in produce shortages at grocery stores across the country, is a bit complicated.

By Thursday, there was a sizable blockade created by Mexican truckers at the border in protest of a controversial vehicle inspection program launched by Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, according to Bloomberg. By Thursday afternoon, the blockade was on its fourth day. Trucks full of mangos, avocados, limes, tomatoes, and cucumbers are sitting within the blockade.

The program from Abbott initiates more searches of commercial trucks on northbound highways at the border. The inspections are causing massive delays and are interfering with the supply chain. The implementation immediately sparked concern from business leaders and politicians. The first person to express public concern was Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who is in the Republican party like Abbott. Miller called the program "catastrophic."

In an open letter to Governor Abbott on April 11, the Texas International Produce Company pleaded for the inspection program to be considered, given its impact on Texas workers.

"Warehouses have staff sitting idle, with no trucks to unload. Buyers in other parts of the country cannot understand why their product is not available. US trucking companies are losing money as they sit around for days with no loads to haul," wrote TIPA CEO Dante Galeazzi. "I have even heard from a member that a trucking company is refusing to send trucks south of San Antonio out of concern there will be no cargo available. This is destroying our business and the reputation of Texas. I foresee companies making plans to move their business to New Mexico and Arizona."

So what does this massive blockade and the inspection program mean for consumers? Governor Abbott is reportedly working with Mexican officials to reduce the number of vehicle inspections, but that process is slow going, according to The Texas Tribune. Right now, shoppers in the Midwest and the East Coast will likely be the first to experience shortages from this incident. Galeazzi told Bloomberg that shoppers are likely to see some shelves empty of their usual produce going into Easter weekend.

Adjust your plans and recipes accordingly.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.