The United States resumes the shipment of avocado from Mexico after the threat of organized crime that paralyzed the millionaire export for a week - Start Up Gazzete
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The United States resumes the shipment of avocado from Mexico after the threat of organized crime that paralyzed the millionaire export for a week


After a week of uncertainty and meetings between authorities, the United States announced this Friday that it has resumed importing avocados from Mexico.

Washington paralyzed this commercial relationship after the threat received by one of its officials who inspected this fruit in the state of Michoacán, where the considered “green gold” has become a source of confrontation between organized crime.

The reasons are obvious: the avocado business moves millions of dollars and creates thousands of jobs, mainly thanks to exports from Mexico.

This Friday, the Department of Agriculture (USDA, for its acronym in English) highlighted the additional measures that have been agreed in recent days to improve the safety of its inspectors in Mexico. “The safety of USDA employees simply doing their job is of utmost importance. USDA appreciates the positive and collaborative relationship between the US and Mexico that made it possible to resolve this issue in a timely manner,” the statement read.

Mexico, the world’s leading avocado producer, has its northern neighbor as its main client. And in the US, where interest in this fruit has grown exponentially in recent years, most of the avocado eaten is Mexican.

The paralysis entered into force last Friday, which was followed by a series of express meetings between authorities of both countries to analyze how to guarantee the safety of US inspectors and thus unblock exports.

Why was the export stopped?

The US stated that its security team in Mexico had considered “credible” the threat that one of its agricultural health inspectors in Michoacán received against him and his family.

Officials from the Department of Agriculture work on site in the Mexican state to ensure that agricultural products meet the requirements to protect their country from pests and diseases.

Shortly before receiving the threat, Washington reported, its inspector questioned the integrity of a particular avocado shipment and refused to authorize it .

Conflict in Michoacán over avocado
The economic benefits of the avocado trade attracted the attention of organized crime to Michoacán, where many of its producers report suffering extortion and threats.

Currently, Michoacán is the only certified Mexican state that meets the requirements to export to the US. This is despite the fact that it is also grown in other nearby entities, which has sometimes caused tensions with neighboring producers.

Last Monday, the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, assured that after the decision “there are many interests, economic, political, there is competition, they do not want the Mexican avocado to enter the United States or to prevail due to its quality” in that country.

What solution did Mexico propose?

Since then, representatives from Michoacán and the US embassy in Mexico have held meetings with local producers this week to try to find a solution to the conflict.

Mexican authorities proposed several measures on Wednesday to reduce violence in the region, where extortion by cartels is common, and guarantee the safety of those who work in the avocado sector.

Among other proposals, the escort of trucks that transport the product, a radio communication network and a monitoring center to track the vehicles, as well as the implementation of fixed and mobile checkpoints were considered.

A permanent action cell was also put on the table with the Ministry of Public Security.

Alfredo Ramirez Bedolla.
The governor of Michoacán, Alfredo Ramírez Bedolla, continued to be optimistic this Thursday that an agreement with the US would soon be reached.

After these meetings, the Mexican participants were always optimistic about the dialogues and the position maintained by the US representatives regarding their proposals.


“We have had two work sessions and I think we are a few days away from lifting the suspension, especially due to the response of the North Americans in the meetings,” the governor of Michoacán, Alfredo Ramírez Bedolla, advanced on Thursday.

What did the US respond?

In its statement this Friday unlocking the measure, the USDA stressed that “Mexico and the US will continue to work together to strengthen the strong bilateral supply chains that promote economic growth and prosperity in both countries.”

However, just hours before, his government had assured in another statement that his position remained the same, which led to the belief that there had been no progress in the negotiation.

“The USDA hopes that this situation will be resolved in a way that ensures avocado exports can resume, while the lives of the people who work to put avocados on American tables are not put at risk simply by doing their job as protection,” he explained.

“We must receive guarantees that the lives of our employees are not at risk (…). We will establish protocols to resolve the situation as soon as possible,” he adds without giving more details of expected deadlines or upcoming meetings between both parties.

avocado packing machine
Some avocado packers in Michoacán are already showing little production this week.

In its statement on Thursday, in fact, the US was especially critical in assuring that “security incidents in Mexico have not been limited to the avocado program.”

Thus, he recalled how an employee of the Department of Agriculture who worked on his programs against fruit flies and citrus pests and diseases in northern Mexico was killed in 2020.

How did it affect both countries?

Although the avocado that was already being shipped to the US at the time the measure was taken was not affected, the impact that this blockade would have on both sides of the border if it had continued would be enormous, based on the figures .

For Mexico, avocado is its third most important export product behind beer and tequila. Last year, it produced 2.45 million tons of avocado, of which 75% comes from Michoacán.

Guacamole has become one of the most demanded dishes by Americans.

Just over half of the total Mexican production is exported, and eight out of ten of those avocados are sent to the US. According to data from the Michoacán government, their export generates approximately 400,000 direct and indirect jobs .

For this reason, local producers had expressed their fear that this ban would last over time, cause them to lose their harvest or have to sell it at a lower price than to the United States.

The Association of Avocado Farmers and Packers of Mexico denounced that, only during the first weekend of the ban, they suffered losses of US$20 million per day.


For its part, the dependence of the United States on this commercial relationship is not minor.

Due to climatic and crop conditions, the country only produces about 10% of its total consumption of avocados, which for many Americans has become a product of the basic basket.

In 2021, almost 90% of what the US had to export came from Mexico, which amounted to some US$2.8 billion.



  • Drafting
  • BBC News World, Mexico City
Author avatar
Joshua Smith

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