As an adult, I've learned one important lesson: When life gives you lemons, hand them back and politely ask for an avocado. But although I consider myself somewhat of an avocado connoisseur, there's one riddle I have yet to answer: Why are avocados so expensive? I love avocado on my toast. I love it on my salads. Sometimes, when no one's looking, I'll spoon it straight out of the peel. But I do not love that the guacamole gods appear to be playing games with me. I am rapidly getting priced out of my avocado obsession — and the reason why is actually a major problem for us all.
The answer for the rising price in avocados seems to come down to weather and climate change — you know, that little thing where our use of fossil fuels is increasing the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere so much that we're actually warming the Earth. As if droughts and melting glaciers weren't concerning enough (they're more than concerning, people), our love of avocados is also being threatened by this terrible, terrible thing.
Let's look at Mexico, which is where most of our avocados come from. You see, avocados are not built to withstand extreme changes in temperature or water supply; however, the current climate in Mexico isn't conducive to peak avocado growth. We're seeing the hottest months on record and drought like never before, leading to a shortage of the fruit.
At the same time, the avocado has become insanely popular, which is creating a supply-and-demand problem. Unfortunately, Mexico experienced a shortage due to the poor growing season; in fact, year-to-year, they went from shipping 44 million pounds to the United States in the first week of October, to 22.9 million. And what happens anytime something is in demand but in short supply? The prices skyrocket. At $76, the cost of a case of avocados is the highest it's been in three decades. As recently as last summer, the typical cost was somewhere between $25 and $35. The cost of an individual fruit has also gone up, doubling in some regions of the U.S.
Mexico wasn't the only place hit, either. Chile is experiencing drought conditions but continues to fight on in the name of the avocado; Australia is struggling against the heat; and the recent heat wave in California made avocado growing even more challenging, leading to our own domestic shortage. Last year, it was a drought.
Of course, things could change — and there actually is some promising news regarding the current price of avocados: According to the Hass Avocado Board (yes, avocados have their own board), the average selling price of a conventional avocado was $1.12 on Aug. 14, $1.10 on Aug. 21, $1.09 on Aug. 28, and $1.04 on Sept. 4 — meaning the price is currently going down.
As if you needed another reason to reduce your carbon footprint. Do it for the love of 'mole.