The Valencian Association of Agricultural Producers (AVA-ASAJA) and the Association of Avocado Producers (ASOPROA) are denouncing a wave of theft of avocados in Valencian fields, especially in the region of Camp de Morvedre. The subtropical crop is attracting the interest of thieves because of the high price it reaches in the market. Both organizations warn that the number of cases has skyrocketed to such a degree that the economic viability of many farms could be jeopardized, ultimately threatening the crop's expansion.
The first cases of theft were reported two weeks ago, with the beginning of the harvesting campaign of the earliest varieties (this doesn't include the Hass or Lamb Hass, which will start to be harvested in December and March, respectively). After these thefts, several producers denounced the sale of allegedly stolen avocados at some greengrocers and local markets. The result of an investigation carried out by the Spanish Guardia Civil was the interception of a batch labeled as Lamb Hass which did not include the necessary documentation to guarantee its traceability from field to store.
For this reason, the president of the association, Cristóbal Aguado, said that “the theft of avocados not only entails tremendous damage for the producers, who have made huge investments; it also gives rise to a black market that evades taxation and involves serious problems for the consumer. On the one hand, it poses a health risk, as thieves are putting fruit on the market that lacks the proper traceability. On the other hand, since the fruit is still several months short of reaching its optimal ripening moment, it disappoints consumer expectations and, in the long run, this can end up in a reduction of avocado consumption when the bulk of the production arrives.”
AVA-ASAJA and ASOPROA have asked the Government delegate, as well as the Council and the municipalities, to allocate sufficient resources for the surveillance of both the avocado fields and the reception centers for stolen goods. "It is impossible to work like this," laments Aguado. "Producers have found a viable product, and it is stolen before it is even ripe. We know that it is very difficult to identify a stolen avocado, but we must encourage producers to denounce and demand solutions from the administrations. If this problem gets out of hand, it could put an end to a sector with excellent commercial prospects.”