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Avocado Prices Spiking Soon? UPDATED

U.S. officials decline to lift ban on imports from Mexico
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Avocado picker
The ban on avocados grown in Mexico continues and retail price increases are likely on the horizon.

UPDATED: On Friday, Feb. 18, the United States Embassy announced that it was lifting the ban on the inspections of avocados from Mexico. The move paves the way for a resumption of imports in the U.S. as of that date. Below is the original story before the ban was rescinded. 

This week, U.S. officials kept a ban on Mexican avocados in place after a series of meetings did not fully resolve the issue of security for U.S. health inspectors.

Officials in this country claim that inspectors in Mexico face dangerous situations in certain avocado facilities, citing an alleged verbal death threat to one inspector by members of a Mexican drug cartel in the western area of Michoacán. The United States is asking for beefed up security plans, including a new dedicated security unit, to protect inspectors while they are at work.

In a statement, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that the halt on imports to the United States will remain until they are assured of inspectors’ security: “The suspension will remain in place for as long as necessary to ensure the appropriate actions are taken, to secure the safety of APHIS personnel working in Mexico. APHIS is working with Customs and Border Protection of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to allow avocados that were inspected and certified for export on or before February 11, 2022, to continue to be imported.”

The Group Council of Agricultural Merchants in Mexico projects that Michoacán could lose up to $14 million a day if the ban drags on. 

The implications will soon be felt in the American grocery industry, too, one expert told the Associated Press. “I think it is going to increase prices in the United States, not now because there is still avocado in transit, but I anticipate that in a week or 10 days we will have a price spike,” remarked Miguel Gómez, professor of applied economics and management in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.

Although the United States relies on growers in California for domestic avocado production, the nation imports about 80% of its avocados from Mexico, with other shipments supplied by Peru, Columbia and Chile.

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