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International trade boosts TIPA

mission, tx — When the Texas Produce Association became the Texas International Produce Association in 2010, great things were expected. First and foremost, membership exploded.

“Back then our only concern was Texas. As our membership has grown, our mission has grown,” said Dante Galeazzi, president and chief executive officer of TIPA. Prior to his appointment he was an active member of TIPA.

At the time of the change, the Texas Produce Association had less than 50 members. As TIPA, “there were over 100 members in the first year and it’s grown since,” he said. TIPA now has 250 members.

In 2010, the international side of the produce industry was growing by leaps and bounds in South Texas, said Galeazzi. “People had more and more issues at the border and we weren’t capturing those members,” he added.

A decision was made to incorporate the international side of Texas produce industry and the TIPA rebranding emerged.

“Our mission statement changed very little,” he said. “Everything is still shipped, grown, handled, imported or touched in Texas. Fundamentally, we remain focused on increasing the presence of fruits and vegetables and its consumption by the American consumer.”

On the marketing side, TIPA’s greatest promotion is the Viva Fresh Expo, which is now three years old. The most recent annual expo was held in Austin on April 21-22.

The purpose of Viva Fresh is to connect retail and foodservice buyers with marketing companies, importers and allied industries, such as transportation. The Viva Fresh program is educational, informing attendees about the sources of produce marketed in or through South Texas, and informing the trade about marketing individual products. This spring, for example, brought in-depth discussions of GMOs and handling, marketing and merchandising mangos. Food-safety matters were also pressed at Viva Fresh.

Addressing Texas and U.S. production concerns, TIPA works with Federal authorities on phytosanitary issues. Galeazzi was pleased with the recent “huge victory” of assigning a USDA entomologist to the Pharr Bridge crossing point. The entomologist will be in place in coming weeks. This enables the trade to identify bugs on the spot as they arrive in loads from Mexico. Without the need to send insect samples to distant experts, the specialist prevents detaining loads that carry no phytosanitary threat to American agriculture.

The 2018 Viva Fresh Expo will be held April 4-6 at the JW Marriott Hill Country Resort & Spa near San Antonio.