Strikes and stoppages by Michoacán avocado growers are costing the industry 85 million pesos (US$4.3 million) a day, says a producers’ industry association.
More than 1,000 producers stopped work and set up checkpoints on highways in 11 municipalities last week, in order to stop avocados from other parts of Mexico coming into Michoacán to be exported later to the US under the state’s exclusive export agreement.
They claim that the practice of sending avocados from other parts of the country into Michoacán to be passed off as a locally-grown product was driving down the cost of their genuine avocados.
According to Ramón Paz, spokesman for the Mexican Association of Avocado Producers and Packers, Mexico normally sends 3,000 tons of avocados to the US every day. Due to the stoppages, the amount is falling short and revenues are being lost.
The producers on strike are asking for a minimum price of 35 pesos (US $1.75) per kilo, because for the past two months the best price they have received is just 20 pesos. This has led to economic losses and employee lay-offs.
However, prices can’t be fixed, Paz explained, because competition laws in both Mexico and the United States allow for free trade between individuals. He said the growers’ demand for a higher price is not justified, claiming that even at 20 pesos per kilo they are making profits of eight to nine pesos a kilo.