Super Bowl Sunday is not complete for many people without some guacamole. But shortly before the big game started, news broke that the U.S. was banning avocados imported from Mexico after an inspector received a threatening phone call.
The development sent social media into a tailspin over the next few days. America’s Next Top Model alumnus Lisa Ramos tweeted on Wednesday, “Why is no one talking about the Mexican avocado ban? The US is about to be avocado-less.”
Clay from Texas also texted the VERIFY team this week to ask if there is an avocado shortage.
Is there an avocado shortage in the U.S.?
No, there isn’t an avocado shortage right now in the U.S., but the supply chain could be impacted in the coming days and you may see higher prices after a weeklong ban on imports from Mexico.
WHAT WE FOUND
The good news about avocados from Mexico returning to the U.S. arrived on Friday. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced that its avocado inspection program in Michoacán has restarted and imports to the U.S. have resumed. In 2021, the U.S. imported $3 billion of avocados globally, with $2.8 billion (92%) coming from Mexico, according to the USDA.
Robert Guenther, chief public policy officer with the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA), confirmed that there isn’t a shortage of avocados in the U.S. right now but the nearly weeklong ban on imports from Mexico could still impact the market. He said “additional time will be needed for supplies to materialize and distribution centers to return to levels before the ban.”
“Our understanding is that growers who apply and are issued harvesting permits will harvest avocados next week. Markets will remain in a state of flux as competing companies look to load up on fruit to refill depleted inventories,” Guenther wrote. “The time needed for transportation and distribution will also play a role. It is still too early to tell how long this week-long interruption in picking, packing, and shipping will impact the avocado market.”
Chipotle CFO Jack Hartung also said the restaurant chain isn’t currently experiencing a shortage of the fruit.
“Our sourcing partners currently have several weeks of inventory available, so we’ll continue to closely monitor the situation and adjust our plans accordingly,” Hartung wrote in a statement before the ban was lifted.
A spokesperson for Publix, a grocery store chain, also told VERIFY in an email that it has not experienced avocado shortages to date.
Daniel Sumner, professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California, Davis, explained that avocado prices will be somewhat higher for at least a few days due to the missing shipments while the ban was in place. The IFPA also wrote in a statement on Friday that the USDA said “avocados that were inspected prior to the suspension of trade and are currently at the packing facilities will be released.”
Though the ban has been lifted, it could still impact the supply chain. Martha Montoya, CEO of Agtools Inc., which gathers government and institutional data on more than 500 specialty crops and commodities, said some avocados are now too ripe to travel and there will be a vacuum of product availability for at least five to seven working days.