A massive shortage of avocados has sent the price of the popular fruit skyrocketing, which has resulted in an avocado black market in some countries as the supply runs low and the demand continues to increase…
If there is one thing Americans love to include in their meal, it is a good avocado. But as many have noticed, the price of the fruit has increased significantly in recent years, and the demand goes far beyond the United States.
The U.S. currently stands as the largest importer in the world, taking in more than 860 million tons of avocados, or nearly 40 percent of the world’s supply.
Statistics from the USDA show that the movement of avocados in U.S. markets has increased significantly since 2010, with a major spike in 2016. Similar trends have also been reported in Mexico, where the movement of avocados is on the up-and-up in 2018.
Mexico is the world’s largest producer of avocados by a long shot, producing more than 50 percent, or more than 1 billion tons of avocados. The prices are also soaring, and statistics show that the price of avocados imported from Mexico was nearly double in 2017, when compared to 2016.
While part of this increase in price can be attributed to the major increase in demand, we also have to consider the seasonal conditions, and how recent shortages in production have played a role in the avocado market.
After extreme heat in 2016 and five years of drought, avocado growers are reporting alarmingly low crops. After more than 400 million pounds of avocados were harvested in 2016, that number dropped to just 200 million in 2017, according to the California Avocado Commission.
The avocado shortage has impacted markets across the world, and projections from the Hass Avocado Board noted that harvests have been dangerously low in California, Mexico, Chile, Dominican Republic, Peru, and New Zealand.
The massive shortage in product has resulted in an increase in crime, with some avocado growers reporting that the majority of their crops have been ravished by thieves. One New Zealand avocado orchard lost 70 percent of its crop in 2018, totaling more than $67,000 in value after thieves raided 550 trees over three weeks.
In response to the increase in crime, local growers’ associations and police have noted that the theft can be hard to track, and they have advised avocado growers to invest in security systems.
The fruit that is stolen has led to the creation of a black market for avocados, as local shops seek to obtain the precious fruit for the lowest price possible, and the thieves who steal it from large orchards seek to make a profit.