Avocado prices skyrocket as a consequence of the cartel war in Michoacan

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Avocado prices have surged to their highest in more than two decades after the fruit became caught up in escalating violence between drug cartels in Mexico.

The US last month imposed a temporary ban on shipments from the western state of Michoacan, the biggest source in the country after threats were leveled against an American factory safety inspector.

Producers have since been scrambling to catch up and total output from Mexico is set to fall by 8pc in the current crop year from its record high last year, according to the US Agriculture Department.

This has pushed the price of avocados from Michoacan up 81pc this year to 760 pesos (£29) per 9kg box – the highest in official records going back to 1998.

The jump comes as food producers already feel the strain of higher material and energy costs that have pushed up prices on supermarket shelves.

David Magana, an analyst at Rabobank, told Bloomberg: “Lower availability and supply-side inflationary pressures are the main suspects.”

Mexico, the world’s biggest exporter of avocados, accounts for more than 80pc of the avocados consumed in the US.

While the UK relies on other sources for the fruit, including Peru, Chile, and Israel, the strain on Mexican supplies threatens to push up prices globally.

Avocados, used to make guacamole, have soared in popularity in recent years and have become synonymous with millennial trends.

Consumption in the US has more than doubled since 2010 to about nine pounds per person, according to Rabobank.

The surge in demand has created a lucrative market in Mexico, where avocados are often referred to as “green gold”.

However, the influx of cash has fuelled conflict in Michoacan, where farmers have reportedly been forced to take up arms to defend themselves from attacks by drug cartels.

US officials last month announced a ban on imports from the country after a threat was made against an American inspector.

Few details of the incident emerged although Mexico’s agriculture department said the official had received a threatening phone call on February 11.

It came just before the Super Bowl, one of the biggest sales events for the industry as Americans traditionally tuck into guacamole while watching the game.

While the ban was lifted shortly afterward, violence has continued to escalate in the region as rival cartels fight for control of key drug routes.

Earlier this week 20 people were killed following a gunfight in Las Tinajas in one of the worst shootings in recent years.

Source: Reforma

Mexico Daily Post