Yeah, you’re tired of hearing it, but avocado prices have gone up yet again. A heat wave in California devastated that state’s supplies, and this in turn overlapped with farmers’ strikes and a drought down in Mexico. Between these two regions, you’re looking at nearly 90 percent of America’s avocados — Mexico produces roughly 80 percent, 10 percent is imported from other markets (Chile, Peru, the Dominican Republic), then California basically accounts for the remainder. This double whammy has driven wholesale prices up by 75 percent since mid-July. It’s now $80 for a case of 48 Hass avocados, meaning that if a supermarket’s selling them for $2 each, it probably isn’t breaking even. This is also a record high, around four times what they cost at the beginning of 2016, and suppliers in California have warned that prices could climb more — as high as $3 per fruit.
Avocados are persnickety little fruits. Trees can over- or under-produce from year to year, and robust years are often followed by a disappointing one. Add to the ups and downs of nature the fact that Americans’ consumption of avocados has quadrupled since 2000, and you have yourself a supply-and-demand problem. “There’s just not enough supply out there,” the American Restaurant Association’s president David Maloni tells The Wall Street Journal today.
Botanist wizards in California have bred avocados that grow year-round, and consumers might find relief in Whole Foods’ Amazon-subsidized supplies if prices industrywide creep toward something truly insane, like $5 a pop. But nobody’s fooling themselves into thinking that this is enough — even Vice-President Pence, in an unusually welcoming move for something from Latin America, has promised that the Trump administration will lift a ban on Hass avocados from Colombia to increase supply. Maybe nervous Dreamers should just go take all the jobs making avocado toast?