A Shortage of Avocados Is Causing Prices to Skyrocket
Avocado prices are rising while supply is down.
If avocados are on your list right now, be prepared to pick through a lower supply and pay almost double the price versus a year ago. The average price of a Haas avocado is currently about $1.50, whereas the average price in January 2021 was about $0.99. Unfortunately, it's not a "more bang for your buck" situation—in fact, it's the opposite.
An Austin-based reporter with Axios wrote that the price of one small avocado at his local H-E-B rose from $0.52 (last year) to $0.91 (this week). The same phenomenon is happening at other stores, too. Walmart is currently retailing small avocados for around $1.
The problems stretch beyond the strained supply chain.
Supplier Limoneira recently told analysts that conditions in California over the past year had been less than ideal for avocado production, according to Supply Chain Dive. Fewer rainfall totals in the Golden State now mean smaller fruits and a smaller crop. The company sold only 3,000 pounds of avocados from October to December 2021, whereas in 2020 it sold 478,000 pounds—that's a 99% decrease.
Not only is it costing consumers more for avocados, but it's also pricier for producers to grow them. The cost of soil and fertilizer is up across the globe, including where a chunk of this beloved fruit is imported from in South America. "Farms are failing, and many people are not growing," one farmer in Colombia told The Wall Street Journal.
A spokesperson for California Avocados told Eat This, Not That!, "Like many farmers, California avocado growers have been experiencing rising costs, including cost of water, labor and other inputs. Additionally, freight costs attributed to COVID-19 impacts can be a factor in pricing."
Labor shortages are also impacting the industry.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture told Axios that truck and labor shortages plaguing other industries (and grocery stores and convenience stores themselves) are also causing the shortages and price hikes. But while the guac may stay extra for a while longer, hope is in sight.
Projections for 2022's crop look positive.
"The California Avocado Commission's 2022 pre-season crop projection for California avocados is 306 million pounds, which is a nearly 15% increase over last season," the spokesperson for California Avocados said, adding that came through the state in December 2021 and earlier in January 2022 helped move the region from severe to moderate drought conditions.
"The 2022 California avocado crop is presently being harvested in a light way and consumers will find more California avocados in their grocery stores in the coming months, with peak volume expected April through August and a tailing off in September as the California avocado season ends," they continued.
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