Mexican Avocado Exports Expected To Enter the United States on November 1
Mexico is expected to export between 10,000 and 15,000 tons (valued at $10 to $15 million) of fresh avocados to the United States in 1997/98. It is not clear whether U.S. demand will increase to absorb these imports or if they will take market share from U.S. producers or other foreign suppliers. In 1996/97, U.S. fresh avocado imports accounted for about 12 percent of total U.S. consumption.
On January 31, 1997, the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the import of Mexican Hass avocados from Michoacan state into 19 northeastern U.S. states and the District of Columbia during the months of November, December, January and February, provided growers meet pest-control requirements. Prior to this action, Mexican fresh avocados were only permitted entry into Alaska under similar requirements. In addition, as a result of the ban on fresh avocados, the United States has increasingly imported processed avocado products like guacamole, over the last several years. It should be noted that most of the Mexican processed avocados were shipped by U.S. companies.
APHIS approval of fresh avocado imports from Mexico requires strict compliance with phytosanitary procedures and standards as well as passing a series of APHIS inspections during the growing, packing and exporting processes. However, the California avocado industry still has concerns about the possibility of pests entering their production areas.
Mexican Avocado Situation
Mexico is the world's largest producer of avocados. The 1997/98 crop is forecast at a record 800,000 metric tons, 26 percent above the previous year's weather reduced harvest. The state of Michoacan accounts for 85 percent of Mexico's total avocado production.
Mexico's fresh avocado exports in 1997/98 are also forecast at a record 60,000 tons, 27 percent above the previous year's shipments, based on expected higher exports to the United States. This higher export forecast could make Mexico the world's largest avocado exporter, ahead of Israel.
U.S. Avocado Demand
U.S. avocado consumption has the potential to increase sharply which could benefit both U.S. and Mexican producers. For example, U.S. consumption expanded in 1992/93 to consume most of that season's harvest of 260,000 tons. In comparison, U.S. avocado consumption in 1996/97 is estimated at 186,000 tons. Mexican exports to the United States could expand the U.S. domestic avocado market by making avocados available year round. This would promote greater consumer awareness of avocados.
U.S. Export Opportunities
The U.S. avocado industry has been successful in exporting high quality avocados to Europe, Japan, and Canada. If traditional Mexican exports to other countries are diverted to the expanded U.S. market and if U.S. prices decline in response to Mexican imports, higher quality U.S. exports to these three markets could expand.
For more information, contact Stephanie Riddick at (202) 720-9792.