When President Donald Trump endorsed a 20 percent tariff on all goods from Mexico, he almost certainly wasn’t considering how the tax could impact our Sunday morning meals. But if the proposal becomes reality, brunch—or at least avocado toast—might never be the same.
The United States is almost completely reliant on Mexico for avocados, with recent data suggesting that we get 93 percent of our Hass and 88 percent of all other avocados from our neighbor to the South. Not only that, but demand in America for avocados has grown so rapidly that as of 2014 we bought 78 percent of all the avocados grown by Mexico, the world’s largest producer, had.
It’s worth mentioning that representatives from the Trump administration have since backed off the proposed tariff, with press secretary Sean Spicer referring to it as one of “a buffet of options.” (Hey, at least he’s working with an appropriate metaphor).
That new, less-enthusiastic messaging could be the result of a sudden realization that the tariff, as proposed, wouldn’t just hurt Mexico. It would impact Americans in a drastic way. When any country slaps tariffs on goods from another, that tax is passed on to consumers of those goods. One study of a tariff on foreign sugar enacted by the United States around the turn of the 20th century found that 40 percent of the tax was shouldered by Americans. And in case you haven’t noticed, avocados are not exactly the cheapest item in your Whole Foods shopping cart as it is. As recently as October, avocado prices were more than double what they were just a year ago, so any additional increase would certainly not sit well with all America’s avocado eaters.
And while it might be easy for the Trump administration to dismiss concerns like this as nothing more than the griping of a bunch of coastal elite hipsters from inside their avocado-green bubbles, they would do so at their own peril.
Even Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) seems to see it as a problem.
And no one has ever confused Lindsay Graham with a hipster.
And while the tariff looks to be on hold for the moment, we’ll have to wait and see what happens. If President Trump gets a bad dollop of guacamole in his taco bowl and tweets about it, it could be the end of the avocado as we know it.