Feb. 14, 2022
The United States has suspended avocado imports from Mexico because a U.S. plant safety inspector in Mexico was threatened, The Associated Press reported.
The suspension started Saturday after the inspector was threatened in Michoacán, the only Mexican state authorized to export avocados to the United States.
“U.S. health authorities … made the decision after one of their officials, who was carrying out inspections in Uruapan, Michoacán, received a threatening message on his official cellphone,” Mexico’s Agriculture Department wrote, according to The Associated Press.
The U.S. inspects Mexican avocados to make sure they don’t bring diseases over the border that could hurt U.S. crops. The inspectors work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services.
It’s unclear how long the suspension might last. The U.S. Embassy confirmed the ban on imports, saying on Twitter, “We are working with the Mexican government to guarantee security conditions that would allow our personnel in Michoacán to resume operations,” The Associated Press said.
Mexico promotes avocados and guacamole for the Super Bowl, but the avocados used for that Sunday game were shipped before the suspension.
Avocado growers in Mexico have been targeted by drug cartels. After a similar incident in 2019, the United States told Mexico it might suspend the import program if inspectors’ safety could not be ensured, The Associated Press said.
On Monday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the suspension was a conspiracy against Mexico by political and economic interests, The Associated Press reported.
“In all of this there are also a lot of political interests and political interests, there is competition; they don’t want Mexican avocados to get into the United States, right, because it would rule in the United States because of its quality,” López Obrador said.
“There are other countries that are interested in selling avocados, as in the case of other farm products, so they lobby, they look for senators, professional public (relations) people and agencies, to put up obstacles.”
About 90% of avocado imports to the U.S. come from Mexico, the Associated Press said, with the U.S. growing about half the avocados it consumes
The Avocado Institute of Mexico says that U.S. per capita consumption of avocados increased from 1.5 pounds to 7.5 pounds from 1998 to 2017.