They have food-safety certification, food-security certification and traceback capability. While the company brings most of its products into the United States through Nogales, it also crosses some product in McAllen, TX.
Lisa Inc. in Nogales, AZ, and the company’s growers in Mexico, put a lot of emphasis on food safety and related issues, according to Abraham Chavez Lichter, financial manager, who has been with the company for eight years.
“There are a lot of issues, and we are working on them,” he said. Currently “we have food-safety certification, food-security certification and traceback capability.”
Lisa’s products, which are primarily pickles, Roma tomatoes, jalapenos and banana peppers grown for processing as well as the fresh market, come from two growing areas in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico — Culiacán and La Cruz.
A new product for the company this year is Tomatillos, said John Lichter, sales manager,
“Right now, we are certified in Mexico in the fields in Culiacan and La Cruz,” Chavez said. “The shade houses and the packing sheds are certified, too.”
Chavez said that the company has customers who “come here to see if we have third party certification,” and they are asking for more than just food-safety certification. “They are asking for another level, like food security” as well as traceback.
Along with traceback capability, “we have a crisis management plan in the company,” he said.
The amount of product the company is growing in protective structures is increasing, according to Chavez. “This year, we are going to put more shade houses in the Culiacán Valley.”
The shadehouses are used for products other than pickles, said Lichter, noting that pickles do not produce well under shade.
Lisa packs its pickles in the “7 L’s” label, its Romas in the “Gala” label and its chilis in the “La Flor” label.
“Our motto is to supply our customers and to supply the public with the best produce we can,” said Lichter, who has been handling the company’s sales for 25 years.
The company was founded by Lichter’s father, Juan Lichter, and his uncle, Jose Lichter, in 1978. Jose Lichter is currently the company’s president.
Typically, Lisa runs with pickles from mid-October until around mid-May.
While the company brings most of its products into the United States through Nogales, it also crosses some product in McAllen, TX. “We support Nogales and everything, and bringing our product through Nogales is a great deal,” Lichter said. But many Nogales companies are “starting to move toward McAllen a little bit” with some of their volume.
“It is not so much that it is cheaper to go to McAllen, because the freight in Mexico from Culiacan to McAllen is more expensive then the freight from Culiacan to Nogales,” he said, although the freight from the f.o.b. shipping point may be less going to eastern markets from McAllen than from Nogales.
Lichter also has other concerns about crossing in Nogales, one of which being that there are often delays. Crossing in Nogales can be “tough.”
It’s not so much that the U.S. Customs facilities can’t handle the volume, as that “they have problems down in Mexico with a lot of blockades” that can sometimes delay a load a day or two, he said. Truckers’ strikes have also been an issue.
“We’re not selling cans,” he said. “We’re selling a perishable commodity, “ and a day or two delay in getting the trucks to their destination gives the buyers less shelf life on the product.