Get your guacamole while you can: Avocado prices are projected to surge as the result of a strike by Mexican growers.
“If you are able to reduce your reliance on avocados in the short term, it is highly recommended,” Limehouse’s produce buyer Weston Fennell last week warned wholesale customers.
Mexican avocados weren’t legally sold in the U.S. until 1997, but the imported fruit has captured the largest share of the market. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, approximately eight out of every 10 avocados available for purchase here originated in Mexico. Avocado consumption has doubled over the past decade, prompting farmers in Michoacan, Mexico’s primary avocado-producing state, to increase plantings.
But the growers reportedly want more money from packers for their crop; they’ve stopped harvesting fruit as a bargaining tactic. The San Francisco Chronicle, which quoted experts suggesting drug cartels might also be exerting influence on the farmers, pegs Mexico’s current avocado harvest at 10 percent of its usual volume.
In Charleston, Fennell warns, that could translate to avocado prices of more than $100 a case, or about twice the typical price.
The Indigo Road Group makes heavy use of avocados at properties such as O-Ku, where the fruit appears in spring rolls, tuna tartare and more than a dozen sushi rolls. Still, managing partner Steve Palmer says he has no plans to pre-purchase unripe avocados while he can.
“I would absorb the cost to the point it didn’t make financial sense, and then of course edit the menu,” he says. “It would be tough but we would get creative.”