It’s not news that avocados are one of the most popularized fruits in the United States among people of all ages–they are full of healthy oils and protein, making them a superfood that people can’t seem to get enough of. When avocado toast was introduced to the market, usually selling for no less than $8, a new trend emerged: avocado with everything. People now use avocado as a replacement for all types of ingredients due to its soft texture, health benefits and its versatile flavor. This includes everything from avocado chocolate mousse, to avocado pasta sauce.
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Currently, the result of avocado’s popularization has led to a record high demand by consumers, which, more recently, has left growers unable to meet such market demands, causing a spike in prices. Americans eat an average of 4 billion avocados a year, meaning our avocado consumption has nearly doubled since 2006. As of 2014, the average American person consumed upwards of 7 pounds of avocados, a number that is continuously rising.
Increased consumption isn’t the only factor in the ever rising avocado prices. Last year, a growers strike occurred among popular avocado growers in Mexico, resulting in a significantly smaller number of produce, leading to a price spike due to demand. During this time, the United States received only 13 million pounds of avocados in October of 2016, compared to 45 million pounds in the October of the previous year. California, this year is expected to produce 44% less avocados than usual as a result of the drought. Similarly, growers in Mexico are producing smaller harvests because avocados have an alternate bearing growth cycle, meaning they produce a large batch one year, but will have a smaller batch the following year due to a lack of sufficient soil nutrients.
Although it seems like the future of everyone’s favorite superfood is grim, we won’t be saying goodbye just yet. Studies show that growers are working on new methods to increase produce growth, even if it means using a new type of avocado. One of these types is called the GEM avocado, which was developed by scientists at the University of California, Riverside. These avocados scored higher than the popular Hass brand on a recent taste test, and have the potential qualities to be grown all year round, which would effectively change the avocado production game significantly, and would, therefore, result in the lowering of avocado prices. Other than this seemingly hopeful initiative, growers are working together to determine the most effective way to sustainably grow these fruits and keep up with the market at the same time.
Hopefully, people will learn to understand the serious impacts both climate change and over-consumption can have on the accessible existence of this product within our everyday market. Avocados are here to stay if we work together!
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