US avocado ban puts 300,000 jobs and $3-billion USD (annually) at risk

The decision by the United States to halt imports of avocados from neighboring Mexico is a blow to the latter country right where it hurts: the oily fruit is the third most important Mexican export product.

Mexico produces more than a third of the world’s avocados, making it the biggest producer on a global scale. Of the total exports, 81% go to the US, which is Mexico’s main trade partner and the biggest market on the planet. Exports to the US generated more than $2.8 billion (€2.47 billion) last year, which translates into 300,000 direct and indirect jobs, according to data from the GCMA agricultural consultancy firm.

The US government suspended avocado imports from Mexico on February 11 on reports that one of its inspectors had received a threatening phone call in the state of Michoacán, the main producer, and an area that has suffered greatly from violence from organized crime.

“This is a serious problem because it’s a perishable product,” explains Juan Carlos Anaya, the GCMA director. On average, he explains, between 100,000 and 130,000 tons of avocados are produced on a daily basis. These will now have to be sold at a lower price in the domestic market or to a third country.

“Looking for other alternatives will not be easy, and so I believe that the Mexican government must find an agreement with the authorities from the Department of Agriculture and the Embassy so that once the investigation is complete, and the measures that need to be taken are defined, avocado exports can be quickly activated.”

In 2021, Mexico produced nearly 2.5 million tons of avocados, of which 1.4 million were exported. That’s to say, more than 52% of what is produced in Mexico is exported. “The value of the exports is breathtaking,” Anaya explains. “It’s our third-biggest product after beer and tequila.” In 2021, they accounted for $3.4 billion (€2.99 billion) of exports.

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The Yucatan Times
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