US halts avocado imports over drug cartel threats – reports — Analysis

The Super Bowl was the most important event of the year for the avocado sector, and on Super Bowl Sunday the shipping to Mexico from Mexico was stopped

Mexican avocado growers have lost access to their largest market at perhaps the worst possible time, as the US has suspended imports of the pricey fruit just ahead of the industry’s Super Bowl marketing blitz.

Mexico’s Agriculture Ministry confirmed the suspension on Saturday, saying US officials halted imports after a USDA inspector working in Michoacan state received a threatening message on his cellphone. According to the Associated Press, this threat was linked to Michoacan drug cartels.

A 2019 incident where a drug gang robbed a truck in which USDA inspectors were traveling prompted a warning from Washington that future attacks or threats wouldn’t be tolerated. USDA inspectors operate in Mexico to ensure that US-bound avocados don’t carry diseases that could affect America’s domestic avocado trees.

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Avocados are Michoacan’s most lucrative crop, generating annual export revenue of nearly $2.8 billion. Around 80% are exported to the US. Trade is suspended and that market becomes closed. “until further notice,”According to the Mexican Agriculture Ministry.

This import ban was made on Super Bowl Sunday. It is one of the most important events of the year in the avocado industry. Mexican avocado trade groups usually buy ad space each year in order to advertise guacamole for Super Bowl snacks. Sunday’s Super Bowl is no exception, as this year’s Mexican avocado commercial features Julius Caesar and gladiator fans enjoying guacamole and avocados.

While the import suspension won’t affect consumption during Sunday’s big game – those avocados were shipped over the past several weeks – it will block any near-term demand gains that the growers hoped to achieve through their ad campaign. Some 30-second commercials for this year’s game reportedly sold for a record $7 million each. Super Bowl draws in approximately 100 million viewers.

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