The avocado is no longer considered an exotic fruit, but rather an everyday product. It is currently the most-consumed tropical fruit in the world. One of the biggest consumers of avocados in the world is the US — its annual per capita avocado consumption has already surpassed 9 pounds (4.1 kg), representing three times the European consumption.
The main factors driving the increase in US avocado imports are a continuous increase in demand and California’s problems with water and labor shortages. These issues have diminished the state’s competitiveness against Mexico, which has suitable conditions for avocado cultivation practically throughout the year.
Together, these factors have allowed Mexico to become the predominant supplier of avocados for the US market.
Fresh avocado imports and exports in the United States
|Volume (t)||Value (MM)|
Source: USDA ERS
Before the 1990s, Americans mostly consumed avocados in the summer, when California’s crop was harvested, and supplemented during the rest of the year with imports, mainly from Chile. However, with the arrival of the Michoacán avocado, the US avocado market began to have good quality products available throughout the year, which changed consumption habits.Although Mexico’s leadership in the next few decades is certain, several South American countries aim for a larger percentage of the avocado market since they have the minimum conditions necessary to achieve it. For this reason, an increase in South American avocado imports is also expected in upcoming years.
Before the 1990s, Americans mostly consumed avocados in the summer, when California’s crop was harvested, and supplemented during the rest of the year with imports, mainly from Chile. However, with the arrival of the Michoacán avocado, the market began to have good quality product available throughout the year, which changed consumption habits.
Mexican avocado imports completely dominate the US avocado market, with a historical maximum of 2.4 million tons in 2021, which is about 87.7% of total avocado imports to the US.
Michoacan is the Mexican state that sends about 2.3 million tons of fresh avocados to the US. Mexico’s avocado export levels will surely rise further in the upcoming years as Jalisco avocado producers in 695 orchards, 9,441 hectares, 11 packing houses, and 10 municipalities now also contribute to the US avocado market.
After several years of slight but steady increase, in 2022, Peruvian avocado imports to the US rose to 269,653 tons, 83,299 tons more than its imports in 2021. Despite lagging behind Mexico’s avocado imports to the US, this increase still represents a 70% year-on-year increase.
Although the volume contributed by the Dominican Republic to the US avocado market is minimal compared to Mexico, its export volumes have remained stable, with very slight growth in recent years.
The annual average price for avocados imported by the US slightly increased in 2022, with an average price of $1.31 USD per pound, which is a response to the significant reduction in the avocado supply in the US for the year. The highest price for the year was recorded in April at $1.96 per pound.
In 2021, the highest prices were recorded between August and September at $1.35-$1.39 per pound. Mexico’s export volumes are at their lowest between April and July, so the price rises in those months in response to the decrease in supply. The lowest prices were seen between January and February, with values between $0.78 and $0.85 per pound.
In 2023, the avocado market in the US is expected to be promising. The US is forecasted to consume a record-breaking 3 billion pounds of avocados, which will be supported by more avocado supplies anticipated to come into the US – Mexico expects to increase its US avocado imports by 16%.
US avocado consumption will continue to increase, and the limit for demand is not expected to be reached until at least 2030. This opens the door for the arrival of more Mexican avocados, but also for more avocados from South America.
However, it does not appear that any South American country will be able to compete with Mexico in terms of avocado exports to the US. With Jalisco expected to bring 80,000-100,000 tons of avocados to the US by July 2023, Mexico is expected to further reinforce its leadership in upcoming years.
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