FILE - In this Aug. 9, 2016 file photo, an avocado vendor talks on his cellphone at a market in Mexico City. Summary: The potential Trump tariffs are expected to hit U.S. avocado lovers more than Mexican producers. (AP Photo/Nick Wagner, File)

Mexican avocado growers expect US consumers to bear tariffs

A weakening peso will shield U.S. consumers from higher avocado prices in the near-term

The baby avocados in Enrique Bautista’s vast orchard in western Mexico will grow to maturity, eventually, and be shipped out of Mexico.

What remains to be seen is how many of those green gems will reach consumers in the United States if President Donald Trump makes good on his promise to slap duties on Mexican exports should the country fail to stem the tide of immigrants trying to reach the U.S.

The potential Trump tariffs would hit U.S. avocado lovers more than Mexican producers, Bautista said. Demand north of the border for Mexican avocados has proven very static: even when prices expand four-fold during the year, the fruit is still scooped up by U.S. devotees of avocado toast and guacamole.

Producers in Mexico believe a 5% — or even 25% — U.S. tariff on avocados will do little to dampen their sales.

“I think the bigger risk is for U.S. consumers” having to pay higher prices, said Bautista, 69, a second-generation avocado grower whose father was an early exporter of the fruit that has become a staple in the diets of millions of Americans.

The popularity of avocados has won the spreadable fruit the nickname “green gold” in Mexico, the world’s top producer.

The U.S. is the top export market for Mexican avocados, according to USDA data, consuming more than 74% of total exports. Japan absorbs at least 6% and Canada another 7% of the Mexican crop.

“Fortunately, the avocado is a fruit that’s in demand more every day around the world, that’s consumed in many other countries,” said Bautista, who gave The Associated Press a tour of his orchard in Uruapan in Michoacan state on Saturday. His avocados are shipped entirely to the U.S.

Mexican orchards yield 11 avocados for every one picked in California. Mexico also produces year-round, versus California’s usual eight-month season.

Production in California typically covers U.S. demand for avocados this time of year. But the 2019 crop in California was weak, with some growers reporting total failures due to record high temperatures last summer that destroyed much of the young fruit before maturity.

The California avocado season also started late, so Mexican producers have shipped much of their produce north since April in what is considered low season for Mexican avocados.

“We are living in a sellers’ market,” said Humberto Solorzano, a third-generation avocado producer also in Michoacan, where 80% of Mexican avocados are grown.

A weakening peso will shield U.S. consumers from higher avocado prices in the near-term, Solorzano figured, but eventually the cost of any tariffs would be absorbed throughout the supply chain, landing mostly on U.S. consumers. The peso plunged more than 3% against the dollar on Friday in the wake of Trump’s tweet promising tariffs on all Mexican goods.

On Friday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador dispatched his foreign secretary to Washington to try to negotiate a truce and point out what Mexico has done to stem the flow of migrants. It has stepped up raids on migrant caravans travelling through the southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca this year. It has deported thousands of migrants and frustrated thousands more who wait endlessly for permits that would allow them to travel legally through Mexico.

Trump’s tariff threat has also received pushback from U.S. businesses that rely on Mexican production.

READ MORE: Trump ‘deadly serious” about Mexico tariffs, says White House

Solorzano said exporters are looking for assurance despite the avocado’s privileged status as a “super-food.”

Frustrated by wild swings in Mexican avocado prices, Solorzano launched a mobile application in September that allows producers to share price information. AvoPrice already has 700 users, between packers and producers.

Producers here say the latest Trump missive has rattled the avocado market less than the president’s April threat to close the U.S.-Mexico border entirely — also because of record numbers of migrants, especially from Central America.

Then, Solorzano recalls, U.S. importers tried to stockpile avocados.

The U.S. consumer needs Mexican avocados, he said: “They don’t have another supply option.”

ALSO READ: Canadian retaliatory tariffs lifted as U.S. kills steel aluminum penalties

Arturo Perez And Amy Guthrie, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The bobsled race has traditionally been a staple event at the carnival. File photo
Upcoming Rossland Winter Carnival cancelled due to COVID-19 crisis

This is the first time the carnival won’t be held in decades

Grace and her daughter Helen enjoyed one of the story walks put on by the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy. Photo: Submitted
Castlegar literacy programs going strong

Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy is still offering services throughout the West Kootenay.

A view of proposed seniors housing on Vernon St. Illustration: City of Nelson/ Vendure Retirement Communities
Nelson seniors housing project to start construction in the spring

Private development on Vernon Street will provide assisted living services as well as housing

The fundraiser is anticipated to occur again next year. Photo: Deb Penner
Castlegar Blue Barn Pet staff raise $15,579 for charities

Staff decided to hold fundraiser after they had to cancel their pet festival this fall

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

The Kimberley Dynamiters' next two exhibition games have been postponed due to an individual testing positive for COVID-19. Paul Rodgers file.
Member of Kimberley Dynamiters tests positive for COVID-19

Exhibition games in Fernie, Creston postponed

Most Read