Avocado imports from Mexico, which supplies about 80% of avocados in the United States, have been stopped “until further notice.” Exactly at the same time that avocado prices were going up to a record high because of things like worker shortages, we learned about the news.
Why not stop imports? Over the phone, one of the U.S. Agriculture Department’s safety inspectors in Mexico was told to “get out of my way.” An avocado shipment was found to be illegal by an inspector, a source told the Washington Post. The Mexican and U.S. governments haven’t said who said that.
The fruit (yes, it’s a fruit) has become so valuable over the last decade that Mexican cartels, which have made money outside of drugs, fight with farmers to get it.
There have been cartels stealing trucks full of avocados for years now. They’ve also set up their own avocado farms and charged farmers per hectare fees to “protect” their crops, with dire consequences for those who don’t pay,
In Michoacán, the only state in Mexico where avocados can be sold to the US, farmers have formed militias to fight back. The death toll in Michoacán has risen because of these conflicts.
The big question is: Will we run out of avocados in the end?
A ban on the biggest avocado supplier in the US could make it hard for you to “add guac.” People have made some predictions about what will happen.
People at Chipotle’s CFO say they have “several weeks” worth of avocados left in their stores.
People who work for JPMorgan said that there isn’t enough global produce to go around because Mission Produce is the biggest distributor in the US.
There could be a 25% price hike for avocados from Eco Farm, the company that makes the fruit.
Analysts say that a ban for a few weeks would raise prices and have a big impact on availability, but farmers say that a ban for a few months could have a big impact on Michoacán’s economy.
So far, the US Department of Agriculture hasn’t told us how long the ban will last, but it says it will be as long as it takes to keep its workers in Mexico safe.