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article imageAvocado prices soar in wake of strike — USDA looks to Colombia

By Karen Graham     Oct 28, 2016 in Food
The U.S. is experiencing a nationwide shortage of avocados, the result of an ongoing drought in California and a strike by workers in Mexico. The price of the fatty fruit has quadrupled in most markets.
Not only have California avocado growers been hit hard by the drought, but workers in Mexico have gone on strike to raise the price of avocados, says KCRA.com in Sacramento.
Needless to say, holding back the avocados in Mexico has driven wholesale prices up four times higher than what they would normally cost in many areas. Last year, Mexico exported 804,000 metric tons of avocados into the U.S., accounting for 93 percent of avocado imports.
Drought-ridden California avocado production has averaged about 206,000 metric tons annually from 2004 to 2014, according to the USDA, accounting for about 88 percent of all U.S. production.
Normally, about 45 million pounds of avocados are shipped to the U.S. every week, but two weeks ago, only 13 million pounds a week started arriving, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. In California, where avocados are as common on the dinner plate as silverware is on the table, the absence of the popular fruit has created a huge fuss.
But the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has stepped in, proposing amending the fruits and vegetable regulations to allow the importation of Hass avocados from Colombia into the continental U.S.
There would be some requirements that will have to be met, including the avocados being produced and packed under a “systems approach” to guard against pests. Growers would also have to allow monitoring of groves and facilities and inspection by government plant health officials, according to The Packer.
The USDA is saying that Colombia could export 12,000 metric tons into the U.S. annually, giving us a net increase of about 8,000 metric tons. Colombian avocados have the biggest volume from December through April, and would not compete with growers in the U.S. where avocado volume is highest during our summer months.
More about Avocados, strike in Mexico, prices soar, Guacamole, USDA
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