A Big Avocado Supply to the US Just Got Shut Down

Imports of avocados, mangos from Michoacan, Mexico, halted after 'incident' with USDA inspectors
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2024 11:23 AM CDT
Updated Jun 23, 2024 11:10 AM CDT
We May Soon See a Spike in Avocado Prices
Avocados from Mexico are seen on display at a grocery store in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, on Feb. 17, 2022.   (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

The US Department of Agriculture has indefinitely put the kibosh on inspections of avocados and mangos imported from Mexico, citing "security concerns" for USDA staff. Inspections of those food items "will remain paused until the security situation is reviewed and protocols and safeguards are in place," the government agency tells Quartz. Julio Sahagun Calderon, who heads up APEAM, Mexico's association of avocado growers and packers, tells the New York Times that "the interruption of avocado exports from Michoacan [state] was due to an incident unrelated to the avocado industry."

The paper notes that, per Mexican media, two USDA inspectors were illegally detained at a community-run checkpoint. According to Ken Salazar, the American ambassador to Mexico, the inspectors were assaulted while being held, per the AP. He said that the pair has since been released. Avocado growers in Mexico—and especially in Michoacan, the nation's largest exporter of avocados—often register complaints about drug gangs threatening them and their families and demanding "protection" payments to ensure the growers won't be kidnapped or killed.

Per the USDA, "avocados and mangos in transit are not impacted," but Quartz warns that if the import stoppage stretches on long enough, supply in the US could suffer and prices may rise. The agency says it hopes to start inspections again "as swiftly as possible," per the Times. Avocado inspections were also temporarily derailed in early 2022, after a USDA inspector received a verbal threat. That stoppage was lifted just days later, after Mexico put in place new safety measures for all inspectors. (More Mexico stories.)

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