Saturday , July 2 2022
US suspends avocado imports from Mexico "until further notice"

US suspends avocado imports from Mexico “until further notice”

Mexican restaurants, according to the United States Restaurant Association, comprise approximately 10 percent of all restaurants nationwide.  In Southern California, that percentage is much higher and the City of San Bernardino is no exception. The city has more than thirty Mexican themed restaurants that a casual search of the internet can find and probably many more.  This number does not include taco trucks and street vendors of various kinds or Taco Bell or Del Taco franchises.

This ecosystem of small businesses that feed the appetite in San Bernardino are facing an existential threat – the flow of the most popular condiment and one of the most important ingredients has been cut off indefinitely as the United States suspended all imports of Mexican avocados “until further notice” after a U.S. plant safety inspector in Mexico received a threat according to the Agriculture Department in Mexico and various news reports.

The lucrative avocado export businesses has become a target of the drug cartels as they expand their tentacles ever deeper into the economy of Mexico.  According to the Mexican Avocado Growers and Packers organization some three billion dollars’ worth of avocados are exported to the United States from Mexico annually.

A recent article from Newsweek, “Michoacán (The area of Mexico that produces most of the exported avocados) has long been rocked by violence from cartels, particularly the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG)—described by the U.S. Department of Justice as “one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world.”

The massive growth of Mexico’s avocado trade prompted rival cartels to fight to control it, as well as extort avocado farmers for money. It was revealed in 2017 that cartels had used government databases to find, extort and kidnap avocado farmers for decades.

With a avocado season in the U.S. months away the future of table side prepared guacamole could be threatened.

Gabriel Guzman, the manager at the popular and very-authentic Mexican restaurant in San Bernardino Birrieria El de Jalisco said they purchase their avocado supply from suppliers weekly, but if the prices climb too much, they will forgo the guacamole, “It is very popular as a side of guacamole or being added to burritos or other items, but if it gets too expensive, we can’t sell it,” he said.

As the supply dwindles the cost will skyrocket said economist Jay Prag from The Drucker School.  “It’s simple supply and demand. When something gets scarce the cost goes up as people scramble to buy the little supply that is left – it may even go black market at some point if it gets bad enough – I mean look at PPE supplies over the last couple of years.”

All in all, the message seems to be that if you need that Guac fix you should probably get it now.

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