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Mexican avocados face more competition in the US

Bad news for Mexican exporters of avocado: American guacamole lovers will have more options to purchase domestically produced fruit, as Hawaii will join California and Florida in its distribution shortly.

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has initiated changes to its rules for so that Sharwil avocado producers in the archipelago can send it to the 32 continental states between November and March.

According to the USDA's new rule that will appear in the Federal Register on Thursday, these shipments will allow Americans to acquire Hawaiian avocados during the Winter months, when most grocery stores used to bring them from Mexico.

Farmers in the Big Island and Maui produce approximately 453.5 tons of fruit per year, but up until now they could only sell them within their state, said Tom Benton, president of the Hawaiian Avocado Association.

The 453.5 tons sold by producers to shops and restaurants are worth about $700,000 dollars, said Benton, who runs a farm in Big Island where he grows this fruit (11.3 tons of avocados annually) as well as coffee. 

"The product has the potential to become a very important component of Hawaiian agriculture," said Benton. "I think it could easily be on par with coffee, macadamia nut or other products of Hawaiian agriculture."

Sharwil avocados are different from the popular Haas variety. Sharwil avocados are larger, often rounder than the Hass variety and are hard to the touch even when they are mature. Fans of this product in Hawaii say their flavour is superior to Haas.

"We are more concerned with the supply than with having demand," said Benton.


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