USDA Proposes Importing Avocados From Colombia Amid Shortage

Image courtesy of poopoorama

Amid a recent avocado shortage linked to a growers’ strike in Mexico and a drought in California affecting crops, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing an amendment to existing fruits and vegetables regulations to allow the country to import Hass avocados from Colombia.

That’s not great news for U.S. producers looking to make money, but it could translate into savings for consumers: the USDA estimates in its proposal — now open for public comment until Dec. 27 — that “producer welfare losses” could total $4 million to $6 million, but “consumer welfare gains” could be anywhere from $14 million to $22 million.

“The price of fresh Hass avocados is estimated to decline by less than 2%” if Colombian imports are allowed, the USDA says.

As for why it’s proposing this idea, the agency notes avocados are super popular and everyone wants to eat them.

“A growing U.S. population and growing Hispanic share of the population, greater awareness of the avocado’s health benefits, year-round availability of fresh, affordable Hass avocados and greater disposable income have contributed to the increased demand,” the department noted.

In order for this to happen, Colombian suppliers would have to meet certain “phytosanitary” standards first, to bar any unwanted insects from entering the country along with the produce.

“This action would allow for the importation of Hass avocados from Colombia into the continental United States while continuing to provide protection against the introduction of plant pests,” the USDA proposal says.

Along with California, which produces about 7% of the world’s avocados, the U.S. also allows avocado imports from Mexico and Peru, the Chicago Tribune notes.

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