America / Food

“Fueled by a growing Latino community and Hollywood stars promoting the health benefits of the fruit’s unsaturated fats…, America’s avocado craze has intensified every year”

The United States had banned Mexican avocados since 1914 over fears of an insect infestation and cheaper competition. But in 1994, Mexico, Canada and the United States enacted the North American Free Trade Agreement — and soon thereafter the United States began lifting its ban.

An avocado explosion followed. In 1994, Americans consumed a little more than one pound of the fruit per person per year — almost all from California growers, whose harvest comes only in the summer. Today, that figure is up to seven pounds per person year-round. Fueled by a growing Latino community and Hollywood stars promoting the health benefits of the fruit’s unsaturated fats (Miley Cyrus has an avocado tattoo on her arm), America’s avocado craze has intensified every year. An estimated 135 million pounds of avocados were consumed in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl last month. (The Super Bowl is America’s top avocado day, just ahead of Cinco de Mayo.) “The boom caught everybody by surprise,” says Barnard, whose company is the world’s largest avocado distributor. “We’re really scrambling. We’re growing at 10 to 15 percent per year, but we still can’t keep up with demand.”

Brook Larmer, “On Money”, The New York Times Magazine (1 April 2018), 13.