Soaring Prices Could See the End of Our Beloved Avocado

"avocado toast breakfast in bed" by Shari's Berries is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Whether you enjoy your avocado ‘smashed’ on toast, piled on nachos or blended in a shake, it looks like the love affair with the avocado is coming to a devastating halt.

Thanks to surging global demand and reduced harvests, major producers have been and will continue to increase the price of avocados.

The high prices are partly thanks to a grower’s strike in Mexico, which is the major supplier of avocados to the US, supplying 82% of all avocados. As well as that production is forecasted to be 44% down in California thanks to a drought. Other major South American avocado producers supply the US as well as European countries. Avocado producers in Peru for example have forecast significantly lower outputs than last year thanks to flooding.

Bloomberg announced that according to the Mexican government, Mexico’s largest avocado producer is selling a 10kg of Hass avocados for around 530 pesos (£21.78/$27.89), which is twice the price it cost last year and at a 19-year high.

This surge in cost and the subsequent shortage has forced many US retailers and restaurants to temporarily remove avocados from their business. Restaurants such as Subway and Chipotle have been forced to remove avocados from their menus to protect their bottom-line.

In recent years avocado consumption has rocketed causing it to be part of a major food trend due to the fruit’s believed health properties. Avocados contain the highest protein and oil content of any fruit. As well as that, they are believed to help reduce the chances of cancer and heart disease.

Although the US and major European countries are the largest consumers of the fruit, China is doing its best to catch up. Thanks to the fruit’s believed health benefits, China’s appetite for them has soared in recent years. According to the Financial Times imports from countries such as Mexico and Chile for the erstwhile ‘unheard of’ fruit in China has grown 250% from 154 tonnes in 2012 to more than 25,000 tonnes in 2016.

In the UK market, avocados, joined by almond milk and e-cigarettes enjoyed the biggest surge in demand; with the former increasing in sales by over 28%.

The US avocado fans could face even more harsh struggles to get their hands on the green fruit as Trump continues to threaten to levy tariffs on Mexico and leave NAFTA.

So if we’re about to be priced out of avocados, which food can take its place in our hearts and on our plates? Apparently, Aubergine (or Eggplant as Americans will insist on calling it) is ready to fill the avocado void.

Although it’s unlikely to find its way ontop of our nachos, aubergines are making a resurgence thanks to a new Middle Eastern food trend. Israeli-born chef Yotam Ottlenghi for example calls them ‘the mighty aubergine’ and says although they may be known as ‘poor man’s meat’, they are in fact a ‘vegetarian’s rich treat’.

Aubergines are so popular right now, some vegetarian restaurants are testing out aubergines as a brunch option using them as ‘fake bacon’.

Forbidden veg #fakebacon #vegan #pathetic

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Although aubergines may not have hit the heights of avocados yet, they too do offer significant health benefits. They contain powerful antioxidants and are also high in phytonutrients and chlorogenic acid. They also are considered to be particularly good for the heart.

Although avocados are certainly winning on the brunch-front and its super-food status, according to a comparison by The Telegraph titled Battle to be the most zeitgeisty veg aubergines win. They have a friendlier original name: the ‘garden egg’ compared to the avocado’s ‘alligator pear’. Baba ganoush has been seen as more ‘sophisticated’ dip option to the overly used and watered-down guacamole. Décor-value, the aubergine colour has proved vastly more popular than the avocado green colour popular in 70s bathrooms. Even in Scrabble, ‘aubergine’ would collect you 13 points compared to ‘avocado’, which would only win you 12.

Ultimately, it’s going to be difficult but we might need to move on from avocados. All good things must come to an end, and perhaps this ‘end’ came sooner than we all thought, but eventually if we all pull-through together, we should be able to come out the other side as better people and take that first step to ordering a brunch again; a better brunch, a brunch without avocado.

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