According to a report from the US Department of Agriculture in December, Mexican avocado exports for the 2019/2020 campaign are expected to exceed 1,000 million tons, a significantly higher number than the 888,000 tons of the 2018/2019 agricultural year, given the high demand for this fruit in the US, which is almost impossible to satisfy. The report also highlights the exponential increase in annual consumption of avocado per capita in the country, from just 900 grams in 2001 to more than 3.2 kilograms in 2019.
However, environmental groups and crime experts have begun to sound the alarm about the consequences that the US demand for avocados from Michoacan, the only Mexican state that can export the fruit to the US since restrictions were lifted in 2007, will have.
In March of this year, the Global Forest Watch Observatory of the World Resources Institute based in Washington warned in a report of the increasing felling of hundreds of hectares of forests in that state to frow avocados for export. At the same time, US media have published investigations about how criminal groups in Michoacan, such as the Familia Michoacana, are extorting avocado producers and are using this crop to launder money. In fact, in 2018, the American academic journal Politics & Policy calculated that Michoacan's criminal groups managed to extort 1 to 4 percent of the total production value.
As a result of all of this and in the face of growing demand, US organizations, such as Equal Exchange or the Rainforest Alliance, have already begun certification efforts for the Mexican avocados taking into account the way they are grown and how they are marketed.
According to specialists, educating American consumers about the consequences that the high demand has on the cultivation of Mexican avocado is key to help change practices and to avoid issues with the product.