The consumption of avocados by the West is exploding

In Europe and across the Atlantic, meeting the strong demand for avocados is facilitated by record harvests in certain exporting countries, such as Mexico.

Avocado consumption has exploded over the past two years in the West. In Europe, it grew by 65% ​​between 2016 and 2018 to reach around 650,000 tonnes. And France, the world’s second largest importer, is no exception to this trend. Parisians in particular, who are crazy about it, increased their consumption to 2.8 kilos per year, according to Xavier Equihua, president of the World Lawyer Organization (WAO), interviewed by the AFP.

In the United States, too, the consumption of “green gold” is experiencing a boom. After a trough in 2017, it rebounded in 2018, reaching some 1.1 million tonnes. “We exceeded our expectations, because countries like South Africa, Chile, and Peru exported more” thanks to very important harvests, explains Xavier Equihua. This trend should continue, he estimates, despite a small slowdown expected in 2019. He figures at 20% consumption growth in France and in Europe for the coming year, against 35% this year.

Mexican green gold, target of drug cartels

This slowdown will be attributable only to harvests that have left to be less abundant, says the WAO. “All the avocado-producing countries will have harvests either equivalent or lower compared to last year,” explains Xavier Equihua.

He then spoke briefly about the disputes between drug cartels and avocado producers in Mexico, the world’s largest producer. Indeed, drug traffickers would have liked to take part of this flourishing sector, as reported in particular in 2016 and 2017. Today, producers would sell a kilo of avocado for 3.5 euros, against twenty cents just a few years ago. Having become more expensive than certain metals, the lawyer could only stir up the greed of organized crime. Many land rackets by cartels would then have occurred, and according to a study by the National Forestry Commission (Conafor), the latter would have burnt 12,500 hectares of forests in 2009 near the plantations, to replace them with avocado trees.

But Xavier Equihua believes that the phenomenon was exaggerated at the time and that the situation differed enormously from one state to another. Thus, if he recognizes that a state like Michoacan encounters problems of this type, according to him its production only represents a minority of avocados exported to Europe, which still amounts to 30%. The remaining 70% of avocados “exported from Mexico to Europe come from the state of Jalisco, where there are no drug problems,” he said.

It also rules out the environmental issue. According to him, the production of avocados in this state would not cause problems of deforestation – contrary to what was mentioned above following arson – or of access to water resources. However, growing a kilo of avocados requires 1000 liters of water, which is seven times more than for a kilo of salad. In addition, Xavier Equihua ensures that as a whole, Mexico “represents only 8% of avocados imported into Europe”. This still represents 52,000 tonnes, or 52 billion liters of water, which is equivalent to the annual consumption of 13 million French people.

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