Why Avocado Prices Are Going To Rise

Avocado imports from Mexico were suspended due to threats to an inspector.

I am a huge fan of avocados. There's something about the silky rich fruit I can't get enough of. (I know deep down inside that it's the fat content I really love.) I shop for avocados infrequently, however, because they're usually not cheap in my neck of the woods. Unfortunately, I'm guessing they're not going to go on sale anytime soon, because the U.S. has halted all imports of avocados from Mexico, the Associated Press reports.

It's not because of a bug infestation or some kind of other agricultural risk, but rather, a threat of violence. The only Mexican state fully authorized to export avocados to the U.S. is Michoacan, which has been saddled with drug cartel turf fights, and avocado growers are being extorted as part of the turmoil. A U.S. plant safety inspector in Mexico received a threat, and all Mexican imports are suspended "until further notice," according to the U.S. government.

The suspension was confirmed on Saturday, the day before the Super Bowl. It didn't affect spreads of guacamole at homes across the country for football, since those avocados were shipped weeks ago, prior to Sunday. An avocado industry ad even ran during the Super Bowl starring Andy Richter dressed as Julius Caesar.

Avocado exports in Mexico yield nearly $3 billion a year, so this is no small occurrence. A statement from the U.S. Embassy's social media account said, "Facilitating the export of Mexican avocados to the U.S. and guaranteeing the safety of our agricultural inspection personnel go hand in hand. We are working with the Mexican government to guarantee security conditions that would allow our personnel in Michoacan to resume operations."

There's no word on when the suspension will lift, so my best guess is avocado prices won't get any lower for a while. The U.S. does grow its own crops too, however, so it's not like we'll be completely out. But until the safety situation is ironed out, we might be in for a bumpy ride for one of my favorite bumpy fruits.

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