It is difficult to read the phrase “avocados from Mexico” without singing the catchy tune from a popular Super Bowl commercial. These commercials ring true today for American guacamole lovers because the triple-digit heat and wildfires in California are hurting their avocado crop.
Temperatures above 115 degrees have led to major crop losses as many fruits prematurely fell off trees. The current turmoil, in combination with the heat, droughts, and fires of recent years, has damaged as much as 30 percent of the avocado crop on the trees and led to a 10 percent reduction in the total crop.
That is a lot of guacamole.
Experts expected 350 million pounds of avocados from California this year, but now Americans will see 320 million or less. The negative effects will stretch into future avocado seasons because some trees may be too damaged to blossom.
In the current avocado craze, with the fruit added to everything from burgers to smoothies, this may seem like a disaster. As the avocado fad has grown, so has the domestic demand. Each person now eats more than 70 avocados a year.
Some quick math shows that the supply of avocados from California is not nearly enough to meet our avocado toast demands, even before the fires and extreme heat.
But America’s many free trade partners are here to save us. In fact, importing avocados is how Americans usually sate their obsession.
Last year, U.S. avocado imports were valued at $2.6 billion. Mexico provided nearly 90 percent of America’s avocados, the equivalent of 1.7 billion pounds. The rest came from Peru, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Jamaica.
Now that our domestic supply of avocados has decreased, it is important to have fruitful relations with these countries. Good thing we also have free trade agreements with five of the six avocado-exporting countries, which allows goods such as avocados to flow more easily.
The trade agreements also allow local grocery stores to keep avocados on their shelves and help prevent price spikes because of shortages.
So, the next time you make guacamole or take a bite of your morning avocado toast, look at the sticker on the avocado. Then thank God for “avocados from Mexico.”