Avocado distributors in San Diego say a recent worker strike in Mexico is the biggest disruption to the fruit's imports in history and they don't expect the problem to improve any time soon.
A spokesperson for Henry Avocado Corporation said that while the worker strike ended about a week and a half ago the issue will have lasting impact on the prices and number of avocados imported to the United States.
At its lowest, about 8 million pounds of avocados are imported to the U.S. each week, distributors say. That’s down from the usual 40 million per week.
And it’s impacting all parts of the business chain, from everyday buyers to local restaurants, which are now paying up to five times as much for the fruit.
“It was $25 a box back then and went to $30, $40, $55 and now it’s $120,” said Guillermo Fragoso, co-owner of La Vecindad in Hillcrest.
Trader Joe’s grocery stores in San Diego normally receive 12 to 15 cases a day of avocados. Now, the store chain receives one or two cases a day.
While the strike has ended and avocados are coming across the border again, distributors say don’t expect the quantity to instantly pick up.
Considering travel and ripening time, it could take days for the supply to normalize in San Diego and elsewhere in the country.
And even with a normalizing bounty, the prices are expected to be much higher. Distributors say they expect prices to remain high unless the demand increases and growers in Mexico to drop their prices.