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Epic Produce positive about future trade with Mexico

Within a couple days after positive indications emanated regarding U.S. legislative approval of the USMCA — the renewed treaty agreement of North America — Art Miller couldn’t know the details of a potential impact on his business.

Art-Miller-dineArt MillerBut Miller, who owns and operates Epic Produce Sales LLC in Phoenix, philosophically noted on Dec. 11 that “any agreement with the U.S. and Mexico has got to help both move ahead with trade.”

Epic Produce “is always selling into Mexico,” he said. Miller’s primary export is U.S.-grown potatoes. But he exports other fresh commodities, as well.

Epic particularly exports Russet potatoes, which he said can’t be produced in Mexico because of unsuitable soils.

Mexican buyers mostly buy smaller-sized Russets but there are retail customers with upscale clientele buying larger sizes packed in cartons.

“Potatoes are a staple for people in the United States and Mexico,” he noted. Miller lightly noted that he grew up in Indiana, “where everyone had five- or ten-pound bags of potatoes, growing sprouts, under their sink.”

U.S. potato growers are collectively short on volume after a difficult production season. Thus, prices are high, Miller said.

He has also begun to build an import business with Mexican produce. Broccoli has been his primary import item. Cauliflower and cabbage are now also being brought into the U.S. for distribution.

Miller credits Peter Jurado on the Epic staff for “doing a lot with our import process.”

Development of the imports is a “two-edged sword” for a new venture. As he competes with larger-volume importers, he needs to have volume in stock to serve customer orders. But there is no guarantee the orders will match inventory if he is overly optimistic in buying.