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Archive for the ‘Importing from China’ Category

China Losing Manufacturing Appeal as US Companies Turn to Mexico

In business opportunity, economy, Importing from China on July 7, 2009 at 5:32 pm

A new international bridge to Mexico is set to open October 2009 in the South Texas city of Mission, Texas. The Anzalduas International Bridge, a $168-million joint project between the United States and Mexico, will be one of the newest and largest border crossings in the country, and will directly connect Mission with Reynosa, Tamaulipas – a Mexican city known for advanced manufacturing and import/export operations.

Since the passing of NAFTA, Mexico has stepped up as a major competitor to China for cost-effective manufacturing. The main reason: lower transportation costs.

Compared to China and other manufacturing hubs, Mexico offers better access to the domestic and North American markets. A shorter, faster and cheaper transportation route to move products and supplies by truck, rather than over thousands of miles by ship, rail, and truck combined.

In South Texas, specifically the Mission metro area, eight international bridges connect the area with the industrial border communities of Reynosa, Matamoros and Monterrey, Mexico — some of the largest Mexican cities dealing with maquiladoras, importing/exporting goods, and vehicle traffic.

This relationship has made Mission and its sister cities an important industrial manufacturing corridor. Sharyland Business Park in Mission is in a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) – a “free port” allowing materials and finished goods to be imported or re-exported without payment of customs duties.

Area leaders have also been keen to other infrastructure planning on this side of the border. A new six-lane expressway now connects Mission with its sister cities. Interstate Highway I-69, another major artery of transportation, will soon connect trade routes from Mexico and Latin America to the United States and Canada. The Anzalduas Bridge will directly connect to I-69 – facilitating trade operations between the two countries.

“In the past, when the market softens in the U.S., we have always seen an increase in companies looking at our area as a way to reduce their costs and be more competitive,” said Pat Townsend, President of Mission Economic Development Authority.
This is evident in the number of companies that have visited the region. Companies like Black and Decker, Panasonic, and ALPS Automotive are attracted to the area for its low cost of living, career opportunities and location. Every day, more companies are finding and relocating here.

Many Organic Soy Food Brands Importing Beans From China

In Importing from China, Uncategorized on May 18, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Tremendous growth in organic soy foods has occurred over the last two decades as consumers seek healthy dietary protein sources. Many companies touting “natural” or “organic” soy brands have found favor in the supermarket. A new report, from The Cornucopia Institute, lifts the veil on some of these companies, exposing widespread importation of soybeans from China and the use of toxic chemicals to process soy foods labeled as “natural.”

The report, Beyond the Bean: The Heroes and Charlatans of the Natural and Organic Soy Foods Industry, and an accompanying scorecard rating organic brands, separates industry heroes — who have gone out of their way to connect with domestic farmers — from agribusinesses exploiting consumer trust.

“Importing Chinese soybeans or contributing to the loss of rain forests by shipping in commodities from Brazil just flat-out contradicts the working definition of organic agriculture,” said Mark Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute.

Through a nationwide survey of the industry, onsite farm, and processor visits, plus reviews of import data, Cornucopia assembled a soybean foods rating system respecting the fundamental tenets of organics.

“The report’s good news is that consumers can easily find, normally without paying any premium, organic soy foods that truly meet their expectations,” said Charlotte Vallaeys, a Cornucopia researcher and primary author of the report.

One company that had an excellent opportunity to meet consumer expectations by supporting the growth of organic acreage in North America was Dean Foods, makers of the industry’s leading soymilk, Silk. Instead, after buying the Silk brand, Dean Foods quit purchasing most of their soybeans from American family farmers and switched its primary sourcing to China.

“White Wave (Dean’s marketing division for Silk and Horizon organic milk) had the opportunity to push organic and sustainable agriculture to incredible heights of production by working with North American farmers and traders to get more land in organic production, but what they did was pit cheap foreign soybeans against the U.S. organic farmer, taking away any attraction for conventional farmers to make the move into sustainable agriculture,” said Merle Kramer, a marketer for the Midwestern Organic Farmers Cooperative.

Dean has now quietly abandoned organic soybeans in most of the Silk product line, switching to even cheaper conventional soybeans without lowering consumer pricing.

Meanwhile, highly committed companies like Eden Foods, Small Planet Tofu, and Vermont Soy work directly with North American organic farmers.

“We hope consumers will use Cornucopia’s soy scorecard to reward in the marketplace the top-rated companies that nurture relationships with American organic farmers,” noted Kastel.

Behind the Bean also exposes the natural soy industry’s “dirty little secret”: its widespread use of the toxic solvent hexane. Conventional soybeans are bathed in hexane by food processors seeking to separate soy oil from the protein and fiber of the beans. It is banned in organics. Hexane, a neurotoxic chemical, poses serious occupational hazards to workers, is an environmental air pollutant, and can contaminate food.