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.

Just Posted

Nine fires burning in West Kootenay

All fires considered to be lightning caused.

Castlegar mayor releases FCM itinerary

Bruno Tassone delivers promised report on activities at Quebec City municipal conference

West Kootenay afternoon storms spark fires

Lots of thunder and lightning, and little rain, as system moves through region

Rainbow Road

Nakusp cuts ribbon on rainbow crosswalk

Nakusp cops warn of firebug

Call for assistance to stop person before a major fire starts

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

LETTER: British Columbia’s forest industry crisis being made worse

Andrew Wilkinson warns of regulatory overload by John Horgan’s NDP

Most Read