Skyrocketing Avocado Prices: 5 Things To Know

Maybe you’re the millennial who can’t live without daily avocado toast, or perhaps you’re the person who splurges on the restaurant guacamole because you never quite figured out how to tell when the darned thing is ripe.

Regardless, if you love the little green superfood packed with health benefits, chances are you’re gaping at the high price tag on avocados right alongside the rest of us.

The price of avocados has steadily grown over the past several months.

Earlier this year, prices held for roughly two months at $22-$24 per box and then jumped to $39-$41 following a March recall for possible Listeria contamination. In July, the wholesale prices of mid-sized avocados from Mexico were 129 percent higher than this time last year, spiking at $84.25 for a 25-pound box. Thankfully, prices have since gone down to around $65 for a 25-pound box.

In some ways, soaring prices are trickling down to the consumer, affecting breakfast, pool party and taco night menus across the country. Here are five things to know about the high prices of avocado and how avocado lovers may be affected by it:

1. Trump’s tariffs aren’t to blame.

Despite worry about tariffs contributing to cost changes for many of our most-used goods, tariffs actually have nothing to do with the increase in avocado price. However, one reason is due to rising trade and border tensions between the U.S. and Mexico. Mexico is the top supplier of fruits and vegetables to the United States — $13 billion was imported from the country last year. Almost 90 percent of avocados come from Mexico.

A couple other reasons exist, David Magaña, vice president and senior analyst at Rabobank in California, told USA Today. Frankly, people can’t get enough avocado. Demand not only across the United States, but the globe has strained the world’s avocado supply, putting a price on the sought-out fruit.

Finally, California this year produced its smallest avocado crop in more than a decade thanks to high temperatures. Mexican farmers took up the slack for California, sending what they had but now they’re running out. Luckily, as the American growing season wound down last month, Mexico’s is just ramping up, though it might be a bit before we see any significant price tag relief.

2. Food costs are up at restaurant chains nationwide.

Some are calling the price of avocados the “biggest wildcard” when it comes to food cost. Chipotle reported Q2 food costs at 33.7 percent, up 1.1 percent from last year, due primarily to avocado prices. During a recent earnings call, Del Taco executives projected food inflation would peak above 3 percent in the third quarter, also due to avocado prices.

3. Unlike supermarkets, restaurants are trying not to pass the cost onto customers.

While Chipotle executives said the high cost of avocados was partially offset by a menu item increase, the restaurant chain joined many others who still offered free guacamole on National Avocado Day this past Wednesday.

Mission Taco Joint, a Missouri restaurant chain with six locations, told USA Today that despite going through 150 cases of avocado per week, owners simply eat the cost. When California avocados are out of season, the Los Angeles restaurant Sqirl simply takes avocado dishes off the menu.

Should you head to a grocery store to pick up an avocado or two, you won’t find them going for the same price they did a year ago. Current avocado prices are listed around $1.70 a piece in many stores. While that’s down from $2.10 a month ago, it’s still a hefty price to pay compared to $1.17 from July 6, 2018.

4. Restaurants are coping in unique ways (and probably hoping you won’t notice the more affordable alternatives they’re using).

That’s right — some restaurants are serving phony guacamole as a way to curb high avocado costs. A handful of Los Angeles eateries are substituting avocado for Calabacita, a Mexican squash that mimics the texture of avocados and is significantly cheaper. Javier Calbral, editor of L.A. Taco, told ABC News using the imposter avocado produces a guacamole similar to what most people know and love..

In other cases, restaurants have reported using edamame, broccoli, green peas and even asparagus in lieu of avocados to make guacamole.

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