Friday, November 4, 2016
NOV 4 AVOCADO SHORTAGE THREATENS CALIFORNIA LIFESTYLE
Noting quite symbolizes California like the avocado. The omnipresent fruit makes life special. Every San Francisco 49er tailgate has a heaping bowl of guacamole. Fast food chains Chipotle and Subway report a 50% increase in sales when avocado is added to a sandwich or burrito. Heck, when I grew up in Orange County, the entire kitchen was avocado green. So imagine the state of panic in the Golden State these days: A shortage has resulted in a 300% increase in avocado prices. Called Guacapocalypse by the San Diego Union Tribune, it affects the life of every Californian. Let’s dig deeper into the causes.
A Draught. As everyone knows, the state of California has been reeling from draught. Three of the last four years have seen less than average rainfall. This has taken a humungous toll on the avocado trees. Shriveled branches and wrinkled leaves results in tiny fruit. Since an avocado is 70% water, this means bad news for your guacamole. With most of the harvest already over, don’t expect to see many domestically grown avocados in the near future.
A Strike. While California has traditionally produced most of the nation’s avocados, these days 80% of the crop is imported from Mexico. The amount has grown every year and is now over three billion pounds. Most of these are grown in the lush and sunny state of Michoacán. Sadly, the massive groves of trees have been wrought by a nasty employee strike for the last six months. Thankfully, cooler heads have prevailed last month and the pickers received a much needed raise. 40 million pounds of Green Gold are being shipped to the USA as we speak.
Foreign Demand. In addition to these two difficult problems, a third issue is also driving avocado prices to new heights: International markets. First up: Japan. Here, imports have quadrupled over the last decade. This is directly attributable to the popularity of the California Roll at Sushi Bars across the nation. Next up: Europe. Mexican food is the new rage in Germany. There are ten Mexican restaurants in Dresden alone, up from zero twenty years ago. Both nations rely on Mexico for their avocado needs, resulting in a higher demand and higher prices.