Mexican avocado exports hang in the balance of NAFTA talks

Global Business

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico sends thousands of products to the United States- and currently pays no import tariffs.

But as the U.S. and Mexico ready to renegotiate NAFTA, Mexican avocado producers are making preparations for whatever outcome may emerge.

CGTN’s Franc Contreras reports from Mexico champion avocado exporting state, Michoacan.

Michoacan is the only Mexican state authorized to export avocados to the United States. Inspectors make certain the pickers work within sanitary guidelines for international exports.

The rules for exportation are quite strict: any avocado that falls from the tree and hits the ground its prohibited for been exported to United States, China or any country in the world; the concern is the bacteria could get inside this fruit and then been exported to another nation.

High-tech equipment allows this single plant to deliver up to 100 tons of avocados per day for export to the U.S., Canada, Asia and Europe. Scores of other packing plants operate here, too.

Operations manager Antonio Legorreta said global demand for this product, known here as green gold, continues to grow.

“Now we are sending three different brands to China. For Asia, we are packing a brand called San Juan, which contains the smaller variety of avocados. We’ve been sending two to three containers per week to China,” Legorreta said.

The director of Michoacan’s avocado producers and packer’s association said under NAFTA, the U.S. first saw Mexico as a threat. Now, the formerly fierce competitors have become close allies.

“U.S. consumption per capita is up to 14 pounds per year. When we started 20 years ago, it was just two pounds,” Armando Lopez said. “That growing demand has helped our industry grow. California consumers are now our main allies. U.S. avocado producers are unable to provide these fruits year-round. Now eight out of every 10 avocados consumed in the U.S. come from Mexico.”

To ensure success, Mexico’s avocado industry spends $56 million a year on advertising and public relations. An average Super Bowl 30 second ad costs $5 million in 2017.