The US suspended Mexican avocado imports after an American official received a threatening phone call.

The US has temporarily suspended Mexican avocado imports after an American official received a threatening phone call

AP.- The US has temporarily suspended Mexican avocado imports after a US plant safety inspector received a threatening phone call.

In an announcement on Saturday, Mexico’s agriculture ministry said the halt in shipments affects avocados from the major growing region of Michoacan.

“US health authorities … made the decision after one of their officials, who was carrying out inspections in Uruapan, Michoacan, received a threatening message on his official cellphone,” the ministry wrote, according to an Associated Press translation of the announcement.

US inspectors carry out inspections of the fruits in Mexico to ensure the shipments that reach the US don’t carry diseases that could affect American avocado crops, according to the AP. The inspectors work for the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services.

Farmers work at an avocado plantation in El Carmen ranch in the community of Tochimilco, Puebla State, Mexico, on April 5, 2019.
About 80% of Mexican avocados are exported to the US. (Jose Castanares/AFP/Getty Images)

The USDA is assessing the security threat, the Mexican agriculture ministry said in its statement, according to a Bloomberg translation.

No further details on the threat have been released, but Michoacan has been dealing with gang violence issues, according to the AP and Reuters. The USDA did not immediately reply to Insider’s request for comment.

The import suspension comes as avocado prices hit record highs in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl when consumption surges. The price spike is due to an increase in production costs, a labor crunch, and a supply chain logjam, per Bloomberg. Avocado prices at US supermarkets are currently up about 60% from a year ago, according to FreightWaves, a logistics trade publication.

Mexico’s avocado production this year is expected to be 8% lower than it was in 2021, according to the USDA.

Mexico exported almost $3 billion worth of avocados in 2020, the most recent year for which data is available, according to Statista. About 80% of the country’s shipments go to the US, according to the data provider.

The Yucatan Times
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