By Brian Terasawa :: March 28, 2022
So much goes into the process of securing quality food in a safe manner for consumers in the United States. When an APHIS inspector was threatened while conducting a plant safety inspection in Uruapan, Michoacan, Mexico, all avocado imports were suspended pending an increase in security for all inspectors working in the area. Unfortunately, the bulk of the avocados come from an area that is plagued by cartel violence, making the safety of everyone involved in the export process, from pickers in the field to inspectors in plants, precarious at best.
This is an excellent opportunity to remind our readers that their food supply, the Certificate of Origin that tells us where the produce comes from, can often represent a very dangerous and difficult life and profession. The danger involved in harvesting food we consume should remind everyone of the privilege we have to shop, pick, eat, and grow in relative safety; it is a benefit that not all people enjoy.
A week later, avocado imports were restarted after enhanced safety measures were put in place and a full investigation was conducted. When the safety was confirmed, the suspension was lifted so exports can continue. The process of immediate suspension was created in 2019 after a truck was allegedly robbed at gunpoint.
It is a critical mission for APHIS to ensure supplies are maintained and safety preserved because of the enormous amount of produce that the US imports and the dependency that many international economies and areas have on those exports to support workers and communities around the world. Avocados are a critical component of our diets and we overwhelmingly get them from Mexico. According to APHIS:
In 2021, the United States imported $3.0 billion of avocados globally, with $2.8 billion coming from Mexico (92%). In terms of volume, the United States imported 1.2 million metric tons of avocados, with 1.1 million coming from Mexico (89%). For the last full calendar year (2020) of available data, Mexico reported exports of avocados of $3.2 billion of which 79% went to the United States. In 2020 and 2021, approximately 80% of the avocados exported from Michoacán went to U.S. markets. The peak growing season for avocado in Mexico is January through March while the U.S production season for avocado fruit runs from April to September.
At CFI we understand the complex web of connections that enable our food supply to maintain a constant flow between imports and exports. We also believe that it’s our responsibility to ensure that our readers know about issues as they arise if they will impact the supply of cargo that so many people around the world are waiting for. If you have any questions about your perishable cargo, including issues surrounding the political or judicial issues surrounding the areas, reach out to your CFI representative for more information.