Mission Produce new ripening room

Leading Hass avocado supplier, Mission Produce, has officially opened its new ‘mega-centre’ in Laredo, Texas, in celebration of the company’s first anniversary of its initial public offering (1 October).

The forward distribution centre (FDC) and third-party logistics (3PL) facility is strategically positioned to foster enhanced customer service, increased flexibility and expanded capabilities for the company’s customer base.

Designed and constructed by A M King, an integrated design-build firm with expertise in food distribution and cold storage facilities, the centre has the capability to provide packing, bagging, ripening, trucking, cold storage, cross docking, inspections and drayage.

“Opening a 12th distribution centre in Laredo improves our access throughout North America, meaning we can serve our customers with ripe, high-quality fruit more reliably and efficiently than ever before,” said Stephen Fink, vice president of North American sales.

“The capacity of the facility, in addition to its cold storage and ripening capabilities, provide greater flexibility and added value for our customers, while also meeting their importing and distribution needs.”

Ben Barnard, vice president of global partnerships and business development, added the company expects the industry to benefit from the new facility. “We aim to propel the industry forward by streamlining importation logistics and expediting transportation times from the border,” he noted.

Barnard will oversee all Laredo FDC operations for Mission Produce.

The Laredo world trade port of entry is the number three port in the US by value, supporting over 65,000 truckloads of fresh produce in 2020, more than 24,000 of which were avocados. The facility is certified by the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) to clear commodities crossing the border.

“Laredo is a major player in the produce and cold storage space, and we credit Mission Produce for leading the charge in driving the economy of our local community and bringing the industry’s top suppliers to the region,” said Pete Saenz, City of Laredo Mayor.

“Following Mission, the city has received a total investment of about US$120m and the creation of more than 450 produce and cold storage jobs,” he added.

Mission has reportedly hired 70 positions to date, with over 110 expected, once at full capacity.

Features of the multi-temperature zone facility include 10 state-of-the-art ripening rooms with the capacity for 42 pallets each, 7,525m2 of storage space with the potential of 6,000 pallet positions of cold storage, 36 refrigerated dock positions and four dry dock positions, 900 staging and inspection positions, and four coolers with 2,590 pallet positions.