Some avocado growers are warning that if President Donald Trump makes good on his threat and seals the southern border between the United States and Mexico, the United States will be left with only enough avocados to satisfy our avocado toast and guacamole consumption for three full weeks.
But, fear not, avocado fans, the estimates are a bit hyperbolic.
Steve Barnard, the president of Mission Produce, the single largest grower and distrbutor of avocados in the world, according to its website, told Reuters Monday that Americans who support shutting the border should prepare for tough, avocado-deprived times ahead.
“You couldn’t pick a worse time of year because Mexico supplies virtually 100 percent of the avocados in the U.S. right now. California is just starting and they have a very small crop, but they’re not relevant right now and won’t be for another month or so,” Barnard told the news outlet.
Reuters was also quick to point out that Americans are heavily reliant on Mexico for fruit and vegetable imports during the winter months through April or May, when the growing and harvesting seasons begin in the warmer parts of the United States.
“Nearly half of all imported U.S. vegetables and 40 percent of imported fruit are grown in Mexico, according to the latest data from the United States Department of Agriculture,” the outlet claims. Border shutdowns would also immediately impact our supply of “tomatoes, cucumbers, blackberries and raspberries.”
But, as Forbes Magazine points out, even if the supply of Mexican avocados dwindles, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll no longer be available. As with previous bacon shortage and chocolate shortage scares, the price of avocados would simply rise to match demand, and the avocado shortage would be temporary. Right now, it seems, avocados are uncharacteristically cheap, thanks to a bumper Mexican crop that followed a 2018 shortage — the result of a national avocado pickers strike.
The most likely people to be impacted by the border closure would actually be the growers and distributors of Mexican avocados. “We’ll be out of business for a while,” Barnard added in his interview.
“Along with Mexico, U.S. consumers also get avocados from California, Peru and Florida,” the magazine reports. “The 2019 crop of California-grown avocados has just begun to appear in stores.”
“The estimate for the 2018-2019 California avocado crop is 175 million pounds, according to the California Avocado Commission,” they add. Although California avocados are only sold in a small number of states during the late spring and early summer, they become more widely available later in the summer.
President Donald Trump did threaten to close the border last week, telling lawmakers that if they do not come up with a solution to the burgeoning border crisis, and if he cannot find the money to begin construction on the border wall in earnest, that he may call a halt to all immigration and trade across the U.S.-Mexican border as early as this week.
Department of Homeland Security officials don’t appear to be complaining. Last week at a congressional hearing, DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielson told lawmakers that Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement anticipate intercepting thousands of illegal border jumpers this month — far more than in 2018 — and could handle as many as 100,000 asylum claimants.