U.S. Suspends Mexican Avocado Imports

Buckle up for even higher prices as existing inventory sells out.

February 15, 2022


ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The U.S. Department of Agriculture has suspended all U.S. imports of avocados from Mexico until further notice, reports the Associated Press. Avocado prices are already at record highs, and analysts expect existing inventory to quickly sell out.

A U.S. plant safety inspector in Mexico reportedly received a threatening message, Mexico’s Agriculture Department said in a statement, which prompted a halt in imports by the U.S.

“U.S. health authorities ... made the decision after one of their officials, who was carrying out inspections in Uruapan, Michoacán, received a threatening message on his official cellphone,” the department wrote.

The USDA wants avocados that have already been OK’d for export to the U.S. on or before February 11 to head to the U.S. under a plan being ironed out with Customs and Border Protection, the Washington Post reports. Avocados are already 100% pricier than they were last year at this time, the Post notes.

“In a few days, the current inventory will be sold out and there will be a lack of product in almost any supermarket,” Raul Lopez, Mexico manager of market research firm Agtools, told the Washington Post. “The consumer will have very few products available, and prices will rise drastically.”

Avocado exports are the latest victim of the drug cartel turf battles and extortion of avocado growers in the western state of Michoacán, the only state in Mexico fully authorized to export to the U.S. market, reports AP.

According to the U.S. Embassy, “facilitating the export of Mexican avocados to the U.S. and guaranteeing the safety of our agricultural inspection personnel go hand in hand.”

“We are working with the Mexican government to guarantee security conditions that would allow our personnel in Michoacan to resume operations,” the embassy wrote in its social media accounts.

The drug cartel turf wars in Michoacán previously threatened avocados, the state’s most lucrative crop, in 2019. In August 2019, a U.S. Department of Agriculture team of inspectors were robbed at gunpoint, and the USDA had warned about the possible consequences of attacking or threatening U.S. inspectors after the incident.