In what has the makings of a looming statewide crisis, we learn today that due to a negotiation tactic by Mexican avocado growers, prices in California of that most nourishing and delicious of fruits are up close to 400 percent. The Chronicle reports this troubling news, letting us know that because the California growing season for avocados is over, even the Golden State is now at the whim of our Mexican neighbors when it comes to avocados.
Mexican growers are reportedly withholding the fruit from packers as they negotiate higher prices, and that has put a stranglehold on the volume of avocados heading north. Instead of the roughly 45 million pounds the US imported on a weekly basis this time last year, the Hass Avocado Board reports that only 13.7 million pounds were imported last week. As such, the price has gone up — and that is felt both by the average shopper and local restaurants.
The Chronicle hit up Joe Hargrave, who owns four Tacolicious restaurants and uses over 1,000 avocados a day, for his take on the madness. His wholesale prices have doubled from roughly $40 for a case to $80, but that price hasn't yet been passed on to consumers. “Maybe we’ll have our waiters say you shouldn’t get the guacamole," he joked as a way to decrease demand, "it’s not very good.”
This, we all know, is a lie. Guacamole, in almost all its forms, is a necessity.
Large chain supermarkets like Safeway will likely escape the brunt of this price increase — they have long-term contracts in place to guarantee prices, as the Chron notes. It's the smaller shops and restaurants that will really be hit.
And this is not the first avocado scare we've had this year. In July, The Packer reported that Mexican avocado growers had gone on strike. However, the strike was resolved within a week — and anyway, it fell during California's peak growing season so the impact was likely to be smaller here at home. That is not the case this time around.
So, what's a guac lover to do? Fortunately or unfortunately, the answer right now is "just wait." Growers and packers need to finish their negotiation, and when that happens shipments should resume. In the meantime, savor every last guacamole bite.