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Temporary halt on avocado imports from Mexico could impact local growers, consumers

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Posted at 5:36 PM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 20:41:36-05

The U.S. temporarily halted the import of avocados from Mexico after a U.S. official safety plant inspector received a threat via a phone call.

Mexico supplies 2.5 billion pounds of fruit to the U.S., while California harvests about 400 million pounds each year.

Shanley Farms is an avocado producer located in Morro Bay. The president of the farm says he doesn’t think the ban on Mexican avocado exports will last long because California avocado growers can’t keep up with the demand.

“The avocado industry is not set up to be able to provide as many avocados as the U.S. market demand without the Mexican supply," Jim Shanley explained.

The supply available in stores could take an economic hit.

“If there’s a hint that it’s not going to get settled and it could take as long as a month or a couple of months, you’ll see prices skyrocket," Shanley said.

While this could seem like a good thing for local growers, Shanley believes it would just turn consumers away from the product.

“Ultimately, it sounds like a good thing for a grower, but I don’t want the guacamole in the restaurant I’m going to eat at going to $25. Nobody will buy it," Shanley said.

On the other hand, some think this will allow the community to turn their spending to local growers.

“I think it’s an opportunity for people to taste the difference of a local avocado," said Michael Wolfe, owner of the Avocado Shack in Morro Bay.

Wolfe has been in the grocery business for 40 years and sells only locally produced and grown products. As soon as he heard the news, he knew exactly what he had to do.

“I got on the phone with my organic supplier and said give me some Santa Barbara avocados at least. I got $1,200 worth of avocados coming in tomorrow and I'll still run out of these but they will be the best quality," Wolfe said.

U.S. agriculture officials say they’re investigating the threat and working to ensure the safety of their personnel in Mexico.