Billions of Tomatoes, Billions of Dollars

Billions of Tomatoes, Billions of Dollars
October 24, 2019
Alisha Kim, Ph.D., Research Economist

Tomato and other fresh produce imports contribute to the U.S. economy in direct and indirect ways, including supporting a delivery value chain in the grocery and food service industries that creates thousands of jobs. According to a November 2018 study from the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Mexican fresh tomato imports to the United States generated an estimated $4.8 billion in total economic activity in the U.S. economy in 2016 (Duval, Bickel, & Frisvold 2018).

As Figure 1 shows, the vast majority of Mexican tomato imports flow through ports of entry on the U.S.- Mexico border with the Laredo, TX district facilitating more than $1.1 billion in tomato imports, over half of total U.S. imports of Mexican tomatoes. Tomatoes remain the largest single six-digit category of imports from Mexico to Arizona, flowing almost exclusively through Nogales, Arizona’s major border port of entry. In fact, Arizona imported $576.8 million in tomatoes through Nogales in 2018, which was 99.99% of all tomatoes coming into the state and almost 30% of all tomatoes coming into the U.S. from Mexico.

Figure 1.