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Price Dispute Halts Shipments of Coveted Mexican Avocados

Price Dispute Halts Shipments of Coveted Mexican Avocados

  • Michoacan producers seeking at least 17 pesos a kilo
  • Sales to U.S., Japan, Canada, China, Europe have stopped
Workers sort avocados separated by weight from a conveyor belt at a packing facility in Nayarit, Mexico. Photographer: Cesar Rodriguez/Bloomberg
Photographer: Cesar Rodriguez/Bloomberg

A price dispute between producers in Michoacan, the heartland of Mexican avocado production, and packing companies has brought exports of the coveted green fruit to a halt.

Growers ceased harvesting last week and now shipments to Mexico’s three top avocado buyers -- the U.S., Canada, and Japan -- have been suspended, according to daily newspaper Reforma. The interruption has already hurt deliveries to U.S. retailers like North Carolina-based Food Lion, which runs supermarkets in 10 U.S. states, and the Firehouse Subs chain. Neither company immediately provided comment.

The conflict entered its second week as producers seek a minimum price range of 17 to 20 pesos (84 to 99 cents) a kilo.

APEAM, the association that groups producers and packers, says it’s nearly impossible to set a price range. The average price of avocados in Michoacan is currently 10 to 12 pesos a kilo, which according to the association, leaves a “good” margin for producers.

The country should produce about 2.05 million tons this year, with close to 60 percent of that shipped abroad, according to Mexican government agricultural projections. By 2024, production is expected to rise to 2.61 million tons.

Avocado, once mainly confined to dips and salads, is now seen as a super-food thanks to its nutritional characteristics and smooth texture. Some people even eat their pits roasted.

Who's buying Mexican avocados?

Americans love their guacamole

Source: Commercial Information System, Mexico's Economy Ministry

Note: Percentage out of the total exported volume in kilograms from January to August 2018

— With assistance by Rafael Gayol