A staggering rise in avocado demand might force Mexico, the world’s largest producer and exporter, to import the staple fruit, the Guardian reported.
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The price of avocados has been steadily rising due to a combination of high demand and lack of production. Poor harvests across the southern Mexican state of Michoacan, the country’s largest avocado-producing region were recorded last year.
Ildefonso Guajardo, Mexico’s economy secretary, told the Guardian, "It seems laughable, being able to bring in avocados from other areas at a time when we are so successful in exporting (avocados) … but we’re not ruling it out."
Prices have risen at such a staggering rate that Australian mega-millionaire Tim Gurner made headlines earlier this year for stating avocados were the reason why millennials were not able to save up enough to buy houses.
According to government statistics, avocado exports now bring more money into Mexico than petroleum.
Deemed "green gold," many towns in Mexico have become wealthy by cultivating avocado. But the fruit’s cultivation has led to a spate of illegal deforestation in the country and towns growing avocados have been forced to organize armed vigilante groups to ward off extortion and threats from criminal cartels.
One such town — Tancítaro in Michoacan state — ships out over a million dollars’ worth of avocado every day.
Mexico continues to remain the world’s biggest per capita consumer, with avocados playing a central role in most traditional recipes such as guacamole, tostadas, and ceviche. Michoacan is also the states with one of highest rates of cartel activity in the country.
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While demand for avocados grows internationally, individual consumption has dropped from roughly 9 kg a year to 7.5 kg, as many Mexicans are unable to afford the fruit.
Marisela Cuevas, who works at a Mexico City taco stand told the Guardian, she only brings out her avocado sauces on request. “It’s a luxury,” she said.
According to the Haas Avocado Board, that presides over 95 percent of the U.S. market, the surge has pushed the price of an individual avocado up from US$1.50 to almost US$2.50 in 2016, the Telegraph reported.
This year, however, has seen a 6 percent drop in the wholesale cost of avocados.
“Prices in the foreseeable future will stabilize a little, and you won’t see a sharp incline,” Robert Bonghi, the Suwanee, Georgia-based director of procurement and pricing at the Produce Alliance, which provides fresh food to foodservice clients, told Bloomberg.
"Avocados have really become very popular, and the diversity of usage plays into that," Jan DeLyser, the California Avocado Commission’s vice president of marketing, told Bloomberg.
The skyrocketing price of avocados has also eroded the profits of chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., and Taco Bell that use the fruit in great quantities.