view current print edition






Ruiz Sales president says agriculture is driving economic boom in RGV

Ruiz Sales, a leading importer and distributor of tropical fruits from Mexico and a fixture in the Rio Grande Valley, believes the region is on an upswing with a bright future ahead.

The valley is currently experiencing tremendous growth of many different businesses and industries, from produce to construction to retail to specialty stores, according to Richard Ruiz, president of the Edinburg, TX-based Ruiz Sales.

“The expansion of our infrastructure, with more coming in the future, especially our interstates and highways, has been one of the primary factors in this growth,” said Ruiz.

Ruiz-photoLaura and Richard Ruiz display the Role Model Award that Ruiz Sales received at the 2017 PBH annual convention in Scottsdale, AZ. The company has been recognized as a Role Model for the last five years in a row as a result of its commitment to promoting produce consumption.“In 1980, the average volume of cars per day on our roads was close to 20,000, but today there are over 200,000 cars on the roads daily,” he continued. “Regarding population, there are about 1.5 million people currently in the area and that number will surge to 2.5 million people in the next 15 years, according to a front page article in The Edinburg Review on Sept. 27 quoting Pedro Alvarez, district engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation. The volumes of produce imports from Mexico have also steadily increased over time thanks to the increased infrastructure.”

Ruiz added that the border crossing is currently a hotspot and in time, it will become the main port of entry of Mexican produce into the United States and Canada.

“Already, many of our grower-partners have experienced a freight rate savings of $800 to $1,000 per load for produce bound to the East Coast of the United States,” he said.

Ruiz believes this boom in the Rio Grande Valley will create new local jobs, business investment opportunities and will fuel new residential, industrial and commercial construction. This economic growth will have a tremendous impact on the local economy and will be a huge benefit for the state of Texas and the United States, with the increased amount of agricultural commerce being the main driving factor.

However, this economic growth will hasten the booming population growth, as more families, businesses and customers will make their home in the Rio Grande Valley, said Ruiz. “Increased population and demand will create additional challenges for produce suppliers, distributors and retailers,” he said. “Many of these businesses will try to meet these challenges by focusing on quick sales of low-quality produce, but we believe this is a mistake. The customer of the future is not the same as the customer of the past.”

Ruiz said today’s America includes the most educated generation that has ever lived, and individuals and families are only going to be become even more educated in the future.

They already know the differences between low-quality, unsafe produce and premium quality, safe produce, and they are already demanding that suppliers, distributors and retailers do a better job in getting the right produce.

“Many families, especially millennials, are looking for a good experience with their food, not the cheapest, worst product on the market,” said Ruiz. “They want high-quality, safe produce, and they don’t mind paying a little extra for it.”

Ruiz said the team at Ruiz Sale is capitalizing on this by placing the most emphasis on its customers’ needs. He said many of the company’s customers expect first-class service and premium quality produce, and that is what is provided with Ruiz Sales premium quality Persian and key limes from Mexico, which are 100-percent PTI-compliant and have databar traceability.

“Our Persian and key limes from Mexico are selling more strongly than ever, in both bulk and bagged packaging,” he said. “This is because our customers know that they will get their dollar value at an affordable price with our product. They want good experiences, and good experiences with our product means repeat business and increased sales at the retail level. Having a premium quality product in a good pack is also advantageous to the retailer, since they don’t have to worry about waste and spoiled products on their shelves.”

A focus on quality and food safety also helps drive down the mammoth health care costs in the United States, he said, noting that preventing a problem from happening is much cheaper than fixing the problem once it appears, and eating healthy fruits and vegetables is an effective way to control health issues such as obesity and diabetes.

“Helping Americans eat healthy is one of the most rewarding parts of being in the produce industry,” said Ruiz. “Healthier eating habits means less health problems in the future, which drives down health care costs. This will translate to lower taxes, cheaper insurance and medicine, and ultimately longer and better lives.”

Ruiz is passionate about increasing produce consumption in the United States, and as such, is an ardent supporter of the work of the Produce for Better Health Foundation.

“I highly recommend that everyone gets involved with the Produce for Better Health Foundation,” he said. “Ruiz Sales is proud PBH member, and we have been a PBH Role Model for five consecutive years. The PBH does incredible work in helping the industry connect with consumers. It focuses on educating consumers on the benefits of produce, as well as does research related to produce buying trends and consumer concerns about the industry. They have wonderful speakers and multitude of amazing programs. I look forward to the PBH annual convention in Scottsdale, AZ, in 2018, and I encourage all to attend.”