After a temporary ban on avocados from Mexico, experts warn that prices are likely to rise in the coming weeks and supply may be limited.
After receiving a threat from a USDA inspector, the department suspended an investigation into the avocado crop entering the country from Mexico. According to the Haas Avocado Board, in 2021, about 80% of US shipments came from Mexico.
“As long as the suspension continues, you’re likely to see some disruption,” said Tom Steinzel, co-executive director of the International Fresh Produce Association. “If it goes on for a few weeks, you’ll start seeing space.”
Stanzel said it’s impossible to predict how long the suspension will last, but if it lasts longer than a few weeks, it’s likely avocados will come from other countries, such as Peru, so the reduction won’t be much. It will be
“You won’t see bare shelves,” he said. “People will have some avocados, but the amount may be less.”
As for prices, Phil Lampert, editor of SupermarketGuru.com, says there is “no doubt” that buying avocados at the supermarket will increase the price.
“They don’t have product, and the product they do have will have some notional pricing,” Lampert said.
How did the ban go?
During the Super Bowl on Sunday, the USDA announced that the sale of all avocados from the western Mexican region of Michoacán was suspended after a department inspector received a verbal threat on his cell phone. Michoacán is the only Mexican state allowed to export avocados to the United States.
Fruit inspections are required to ensure that avocados in the United States are pest-free, which helps protect avocado crops in states like California.
The details of the threat are unknown. According to the USDA, the US Embassy in Mexico determined on Friday that the threat was “credible” and that “inspections required for avocado exports from the region have been suspended” on the USDA’s advice.
In a statement from the USDA to NPR, we must ensure that the lives of our employees are not at risk as they work to comply with the certification and export requirements for agricultural products from Mexico that allow US growers to control pests and protect against disease. “, the USDA said in a statement to NPR.
The USDA said its Office of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is working with the Mexican embassy, Mexico’s National Plant Protection Organization and the Mexican Avocado Growers and Exporters Association to address the safety concerns. IS.
“The USDA hopes that this situation can be resolved in a way that allows avocado exports to resume, while the lives of those who work to keep avocados on the American table are at risk simply because of their safety work.” No,” the department said.
Gang violence continues in the state of Michoacán.
Security in the Michoacán region has worsened over the years due to cartel violence that takes advantage of the economic viability of the avocado trade.
NPR’s Kerry Kahn reported that exports of avocados, known as green gold, were about 3 billion last year. Avocado growers, packers and truckers must pay “war taxes” to the cartels to keep harvesting.
And the USDA says it’s not just avocado growers at risk.
In 2020, the USDA said one of its employees was killed during a lemon pest and disease program in northern Mexico. More recently, another inspector received a phone call threatening him and his family when he refused to confirm a shipment.
Mexico’s president would not comment on recent security concerns in Michoacán, saying U.S. groups are working together to prioritize their interests and stay away from competition.
The restaurant industry will suffer more than retailers.
It’s unclear when the suspension will end, but some US restaurant chains are already trying to figure out how it might affect their stores and sales.
Restaurants that rely heavily on avocados on their menus may have a harder time than retailers, Stenzel said.
“They just can’t afford to lose avocados to guacamole and other portions of their main dishes. Retail, in the worst case, avocados are scarce, and their price is high. But this is not the end of the day. Restaurant for China,” Stanzel said.