Holy Guacamole! Are avocados back or not?

| by S.A. Whitehead
Holy Guacamole! Are avocados back or not?

Is the avocado shortage still on? The answer, it seems, depends on who you ask and what news source you rely on. 

For instance, the New York Post reported that the shortage is essentially over. According to the story their reporter filed just before midnight Thursday, avocado prices will soon drop now that the single biggest event causing the shortage — a labor problem in Mexico — is now over.

During October, the price of the mushy, green guac essentially more than doubled. But Hass Avocado Board Executive Director Emiliano Escobedo told the Post, "Avocados are flowing freely and abundantly into this country."

But, turn to just about any other news source and the crisis is still upon us. For instance, the Business Insider today reportedthat avocados were — as of Thursday, Nov. 3 — at their highest price ever, with no signs of coming down. 

After all, the Insider reports, the Mexican labor showdown might be over, but California is still dried up like an old bone and that's where about 80 percent of the avocados Americans eat come from. Plus, now avocado growers in California say a nasty little beetle called the polyphagous shot hole borer, is killing the trees that produce avocados there by drilling holes in their trunks and filling them with a deadly fungus.  

Plus, it's not just a labor dispute that has stopped the world’s biggest avocado producer, Mexico, from its regular rate of trade in avocados. Now it seems the same kind of fire-y arid weather that’s killing California and its trees, is also eating up crops in Mexico. 

In fact, that same hot and dry weather — which scientists say is being brought on by global warming, though some politicians strongly disagree — is even halting alternate sources of avocado production in places like Australia and Chile. In fact, the green ovules are so valuable to the Chilean economy that drinking water for humans is now being diverted to avocados, according to Business Insider.  

But, the bottom line on the avocado situation is there are supply problems, with or without the labor dispute in Mexico, which Giardino Salads founder, Kenny Lugo, said his chain's supplier has told him is largely over. But that leaves the last month, at least, of the chain essentially absorbing the loss that has occurred as a result of the higher-priced avocados in the menu items which demand them. 

"We, here in Florida, have been able to get by a little easier because we have had a decent amount of Florida avocados this year," Lugo said. "Giardino Salads does not charge extra for avocado in our salads, wraps or bowls, so this price hike has been somewhat of a hit. When Florida avocados have not been available we have given customers the option to pick any topping other than our protein options, as a substitute."


And that's why some restaurateurs are moving on to plan B
Given the relatively dire and now, unconfirmed, reports about the fruit, some restaurant operators are going with Mother Nature and opting to move to other alternatives in place of all that avocado-based green gold in their menus.

Replacement options for the savory fruit spotted across the web, include everything from jackfruit and broccoli (a la 'brocomole') to edamame and sweet potatoes.

Yet, despite all the turmoil and dried-up avocado trees, suppliers, like those at Reinhart Foodservice and Avocados from Mexico (AFM), today announced they have joined forces to get the guacamole rolling again and will now be offering the leathery green ovules as part of their Reinhart’s Good Roots Product brand.

"By joining with AFM, we’re able to broaden our commitment to provide the freshest, high-value products all year round," said Reinhart Produce Category Director Rob Ondrus, in a news release. "AFM has seen much success in the last year, and no doubt our customers will be clamoring to add this item to their menus going forward."
According to the company, AFM provides 60 percent of the world's avocados, all grown in Mexico with a four-season bloom. This website also has questions into a variety of suppliers and growers for further information, which will be added to this story as we receive responses. 

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Hot Products

S.A. Whitehead

Award-winning veteran print and broadcast journalist, Shelly Whitehead, has spent most of the last 30 years reporting for TV and newspapers, including the former Kentucky and Cincinnati Post and a number of network news affiliates nationally. She brings her cumulative experience as a multimedia storyteller and video producer to the web-based pages of Pizzamarketplace.com and QSRweb.com after a lifelong “love affair” with reporting the stories behind the businesses that make our world go ‘round. Ms. Whitehead is driven to find and share news of the many professional passions people take to work with them every day in the pizza and quick-service restaurant industry. She is particularly interested in the growing role of sustainable agriculture and nutrition in food service worldwide and is always ready to move on great story ideas and news tips.

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