Guac On: U.S. Ban on Mexican Avocado Imports Ends After Less Than a Week

Imports from the southwestern state of Michoacán were temporarily suspended earlier this month after a U.S. inspector was threatened. 

Seasoned halved avocados
Photo: Getty Images

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced that avocado exports from Michoacán, Mexico would resume, after being briefly suspended. On Saturday, February 13, the exports were put on hold after a U.S.-based plant inspector reportedly received a threatening message on his phone.

In its statement announcing that avocado imports had been allowed to resume, APHIS said that it worked with the U.S. Embassy in Mexico's Regional Security Officer, Mexico's national plant protection organization (SENASICA), and the Association of Avocado Producers and Packers Exporters of Mexico (APEAM) to "[enact] additional measures that enhance safety" for the agency's inspectors who were working in Michoacán.

"The safety of USDA employees simply doing their jobs is of paramount importance," APHIS wrote. "USDA is appreciative of the positive, collaborative relationship between the United States and Mexico that made resolution of this issue possible in a timely manner."

The Association of Avocado Producers and Packers Exporters of Mexico, which represents more than 30,000 avocado producers and 74 packers, also released a statement after reaching that agreement with U.S. authorities to resume inspecting and exporting avocado shipments. APEAM's Director General, Armando López Orduña, said that the government of Michoacán would be implementing "an operational security plan" regarding avocado exports, and it would also enhance its existing security protocols to "safeguard the physical safety of the officers and facilities" that are associated with the USDA.

"On behalf of the entire industry, I would like to thank the authorities of both countries for their support and commitment to reactivate the exports of the Michoacán avocado to the United States in order to avoid, to the extent possible, the impact on supply, after the suspension of harvest and shipments announced on Friday, February 11," López Orduña said.

After the suspension was announced, some analysts started to worry aloud about the possibility of avocado shortages or price increases, due to the sheer volume of avocados that are imported from Michoacán. "If this ban lasts only two weeks, we will probably see less availability, but I don't think that the impact is going to be too big," David Magana, a senior fruits and vegetables analyst for Rabobank, told CNBC. "We're just past Super Bowl weekend, and people probably already have avocados in their kitchen."

Although the temporary suspension ended up lasting less than a week, it still had a significant financial impact. APEAM told Eater that the brief shutdown "likely resulted in a cost of more than $120 million in the United States throughout the supply chain, impacting wholesale, retail, and service industries at both the state and national levels."

Last year, the U.S. imported 1.2 million metric tons of avocados, and 1.1 million (89 percent) came from Mexico. And in the past two years (2020 and 2021) around 80 percent of the avocados that were exported from Michoacán were sent to the United States.

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