Health

We’re Eating So Many Avocados People in Mexico Can’t Afford Them

The home of avocados is now considering importing them from elsewhere.
August 7, 2017, 10:55pm
Andrew Cebulka

Americans' growing love for the avocado may not be killing the housing market, but it could be making the fatty fruit too costly for most people to afford in Mexico, the country most responsible for producing them.

According to a report by the Guardian published Sunday, the crop has become so internationally popular in recent years that farmers have less to sell within the country itself, leading to increased prices that leave local residents squeezed out. The situation's become so dire that the government is exploring shipping in avocados from other countries.

"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," economy secretary Ildefonso Guajardo told the Guardian.

First cultivated in Mexico (though its origins may date back to Peru 15,000 years ago) the avocado has remained an essential part of the country's agricultural and cultural identity. Even today, Mexico produces about half the world's supply of the crop. But the demand for avocados elsewhere has grown massively in recent years, particularly in the States, following the end of an import ban in 1997 and, more recently, a stampede of health-crazed clean eaters looking for a healthy-fat fix. Over the last decade, US consumption of avocados has doubled, according to the World Avocado Organization, and annually, consumption has increased by 15 percent per year, according to the Guardian. Meanwhile, Mexicans' own annual individual consumption has dropped from 9 kg to 7.5 kg.

This demand has led entrepreneurs to open up eateries centered on avocado toast and has compelled chain restaurants like Subway and Chipotle to stock up on guacamole. Even doctors aren't shy about promoting avocados, since they're rich in healthy fats and vitamins. Fascination with the fruit has gotten so out of control that Australian developer Tim Gurner recently blamed them for millennials' failure to invest in real estate, grousing during a television interview that he was able to get into the real estate game at 18 because he didn't waste money "buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each." (Gurner was, of course, roundly mocked for his dubious logic.)

The millennials alone aren't killing avocados in Mexico, though. At least some of the recent price shock is thought to be caused by a 20 percent crop shortage this year as well. But unless they suddenly diminish in popularity, it seems possible they'll end up like Corona and soccer—yet another thing Americans have ruined by appropriation from our neighbors to the south.