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US resumes avocado imports from Mexico

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Guacamole lovers can relax: the US government has allowed avocado imports from Mexico to resume./AFP
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Feb 22, 2022 - 07:20 AM

WASHINGTON — Avocado imports from the western Mexican state of Michoacan have resumed following a week-long suspension after steps were taken to ensure the safety of American inspectors, the US government said Friday.

Shipments were halted after a US inspector received a threatening phone call a week ago, prompting fears among lovers of guacamole and avocado toast that prices could spike.

But the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said security and industry organizations “have enacted additional measures that enhance safety for APHIS’ inspectors working in the field.”

As a result, the avocado inspection program “has restarted and avocado exports to the United States have resumed,” APHIS said in a statement.

Michoacan is the world’s largest avocado producer, with 85 percent of its crop exported to the United States, but it is also one of the Mexican states hardest hit by violence linked to organized crime.

Last year a group of avocado producers formed a self-defense group they said was needed to prevent kidnapping, extortion and theft by criminal groups.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Monday that “economic and political interests” afraid of competition also played a part in the US decision to pause exports.

In the statement Friday, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said employee safety “is of paramount importance” and noted the “positive, collaborative relationship” between the neighboring nations to resolve the issue.

In 2021, 92 percent of the $3 billion in avocados imported into the United States came from Mexico, and Michoacan is the only Mexican state with approval to export to the US market, which it has done for some 25 years, according to APHIS.

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