You might have to spend more for that avocado toast.
And move over cream cheese. Those avocados you planned on buying to make fresh guacamole could be the next great shortage of 2022.
Avocado imports from Mexico to the U.S. have been suspended indefinitely after a U.S. plant safety inspector in Mexico received a threat.
(Are you noticing signs of an avocado shortage yet, including any new limits on how many avocados you can buy? Have you noticed avocado prices rising lately? Feel free to fill out this form, which also is below, to tell USA TODAY about your experiences.)
Higher prices and minimal inventory in grocery stores for the beloved green fruit are expected with the new suspension.
DAILY MONEY NEWSLETTER: Money tips and advice delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here
The fruit has become a staple in the United States, where per capita consumption of avocados tripled since 2001 to 8 pounds per person in 2018.
The avocado growers association and Michoacan state officials have been holding meetings this week with U.S. officials to work out security guarantees for U.S. inspectors.
Here’s what you need to know.
Why are avocados banned from Mexico?
Mexico is negotiating security guarantees for U.S. inspectors who certify Mexican avocados for export. The inspections were halted last week after one of the U.S. inspectors was threatened in the western state of Michaoacan, where growers are routinely subject to extortion by drug cartels.
What percentage of avocados are from Mexico?
Avocados from Mexico that were already inspected can still be shipped north but there were signs Thursday that supplies will tighten and companies that import avocados may have to look beyond Mexico, which currently supplies about 80% of U.S. imports of the fruit.
Where else does the U.S. get avocados?
Peru, Colombia and Chile already ship avocados to the United States, but in quantities that are only a tiny fraction of Mexico’s production. There are also domestic sources like southern California.
Why are avocado prices so high?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s retail report on avocado prices between Feb. 4 and Feb. 10 showed that avocados were “significantly higher in price than last year” but were “very well advertised” ahead of the Super Bowl, which is considered one of the top days for avocado consumption.
The average price of a Hass avocado was $1.24, and they were on sale at 5,505 stores, compared with 78 cents last year at nearly 20,000 stores.
Prices are now expected to increase even more.
“I think it is going to increase prices in the United States, not now because there is still avocado in transit, but I anticipate that in a week or 10 days we will have a price spike,” said Miguel Gómez, professor of applied economics and management in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.
Will there be an avocado shortage?
Gómez said he expects any shortage caused by the ban would be short-lived.
“I think that the disruption in the market will be very short now because (avocado from) Peru is going to come in late March, early April, and I’m sure they are going to do everything it takes to start shipping avocados earlier and perhaps in mid-March,” Gómez said.
Will Chipotle run out of avocados for its guacamole?
Jack Hartung, Chipotle Mexican Grill’s chief financial officer, said in a statement that the fast-casual chain is “working closely with our suppliers to navigate through this challenge. Our sourcing partners currently have several weeks of inventory available, so we’ll continue to closely monitor the situation and adjust our plans accordingly.”
Contributing: Associated Press; Gabriela Miranda, USA TODAY
Are you experiencing avocado shortages? Tell USA TODAY
Are your local stories flush with avocados or running out? Fill out the form below. If you don’t see a form, click here.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Avocado shortage? Will the ban on avocados from Mexico raise prices?