HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) – From your morning avocado toast to guac served at a local restaurant, avocados have become a staple in the Texas diet, putting the state at the top of the list for consumers Mexican avocados.
California and Texas are the two main markets for Mexican avocado consumption.
Consumers in both markets are also the savviest about picking, handling and preparing them, said Ron Campbell, executive director of the Mexican Association of Hass Avocado Importers.
Simply put, Texans know all about lawyers.
Houston-based celebrity chef and restaurateur Sylvia Casares prefers Mexican avocados for their creaminess and smoothness.
“They’re creamier, more buttery and yes, they’re just perfect,” she said. “And I have a cooking school and I talk about Mexican avocados in my cooking classes and I just tell them they’re native to Mexico. They’re grown in California…and that’s an imitation.
“The soil, the temperature, the rain are critical to how we get these amazing avocados.”
So why do Mexican avocados taste so good?
The oil content is what makes an avocado good, Campbell said. Oil content is based on dry matter content. If the dry matter content is not 23% or more, Mexico will not ship.
“This is the level where taste and quality are at their peak,” he said.
This emphasis on taste and quality is important for producers wishing to maintain their dominance in the American market, where the appetite for aguacate demanded that more than 2.3 billion pounds of avocados be imported from Mexico this year alone.
A growing appetite for avocados from Mexico
Over the past 15 years, imports of avocados have increased by 15% each year. Campbell attributes this to consumers moving towards healthier diets and understanding the health benefits of avocados.
The United States has the largest volume of avocado imports in the world, and industry promotion group Avocados from Mexico said eight out of 10 avocados consumed in the United States come from Mexico. The gap is filled mainly by avocados from California, Peru and Chile. In 2020, avocados from Mexico led the market, followed by California and Peru, according to a report by the Avocado Institute of Mexico.
According to the report, the growth in the volume of Mexican imports is accompanied by a broadening of the seasonal pattern of Mexican imports to near constant availability throughout the year. Avocado imports, especially from Mexico, tend to peak in winter and spring, when California avocados are out of season, the report said.
Campbell said California benefits from Mexican avocado imports with more than $887 million in value added to their state economy and more than 7,900 jobs.
In Texas, there is over $380 million in value added to the state’s economy through imports of Mexican avocados. Hass attorneys also account for nearly 4,000 jobs in the state.
Figures for fiscal year 2021/22 show that the total economic output of Mexican Hass avocado imports into Texas is over $714 million.
Events such as the Super Bowl also tend to create shipping spikes.
Imports from Peru peak in the summer, while imports from Chile bolster the domestic supply in the winter. An influx of lawyers from the Dominican Republic and New Zealand is also common.
California is the only US state to produce Hass avocados and accounts for less than 10% of the avocados consumed in the country, Campbell said. California produces about 250 million pounds a year.
Mexico accounts for 80% of avocados consumed in the United States, and another 10% comes from foreign origins, Campbell said.
Michoacan and Jalisco are the only two states that grow avocados in Mexico. Michoacan is by far the largest avocado producer in the world, Campbell said, along with Jalisco, which just entered the US market this year.
The Avocado’s Contribution to the American Economy
According to a study conducted by Texas A&M, US imports of Mexican Hass avocados contribute to the US economy as trade moves through the food supply chain and drives various market activities.
According to a 2022 economic report on avocados from Mexico, imports of avocados from Mexico contribute $6 billion to US GDP and generate $11.2 billion in economic output in the United States.
Importing avocados has also created more than 58,299 jobs in the United States.
From the moment an avocado is picked from the tree, a ripple effect occurs, creating revenue for the picker, packer, driver, importer, distributor, and others in between. There are a wide variety of industries associated with moving this avocado from the tree to the consumer’s table.
“It really shows that this business is working,” Campbell said of the impact of importing avocados on the economy. “It helps many different industries throughout the supply chain. Not just growers, packers and importers. … There are many other people in between in a supply chain who profit from importing avocados from Mexico.
From farm to table in days
According to Avocados from Mexico, Mexican farmers only ship fruit when it’s ready to pick, which isn’t possible for growers further afield overseas. Foreign fruits from other countries must be shipped according to a ship’s schedule.
However, truckers can quickly transport Mexican avocados to the United States, giving them the luxury of shipping them when the oil content is optimal, Campbell said.
“I think it comes down to consumer preference for avocados from Mexico,” he said, “because of the freshness and quality of the product. It can go from farm to table in about four days.
That sentiment seems to be shared by Casares, owner of Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen in Houston.
In his restaurants, Casares uses avocados to make tomato guacamole; pica-mole, which is like pico de gallo with avocado cubes; and Border guacamole, which is guacamole with a bunch of cilantro, a bunch of onions, a bunch of tomatoes, and a bunch of jalapeños. Additionally, she uses avocados in a few of her signature sauces.
Since 1995, the Texas chef has sourced her avocados from Houston Avocado, which helps time the ripening process and provides fair prices, she said.
“It’s in front of my customers’ eyes and I don’t want to serve anything that isn’t of the best quality,” Casares said. “That’s how I got my name, how I developed my brand.”
There is a short period during the year when Mexican avocados are not readily available for her businesses, she said.
“Once in a while we have to buy avocados from Chile…and they’re not that good,” Casares said. “You notice it, the flavor. They don’t hold. They darken very quickly, but we have no choice. So for a short time we have to, but my preference is for avocados from Mexico. »