MEXICO CITY – Producers of Mexican avocados, of which 35,000 tons will be consumed in the United States during this weekend’s Super Bowl on Sunday, are counting on maintaining their exports of the fruit to consumers north of the border while working hard to develop other markets – just in case trade negotiations with the new Trump government go awry.
“We hope negotiations (about NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement) will allow us to continue our trade in avocados as it has been up to now, because it has been a great benefit for the US consumer,” the strategy consultant for Producers and Packers of Mexican Avocados for Export (APEAM), Ramon Paz, told EFE.
He said the agreement, in force since 1994 and which the new US president, Donald Trump, has said he plans to renegotiate or suspend, “has created jobs and wealth in the United States and has also been very beneficial for exporters and the people of Mexico in general.”
“But if there should be a problem, we’d have to go back to the previous system when we paid a customs duty of 6 cents a pound, which doesn’t affect us much because there’s no other country that could supply the huge quantity of avocados needed by the United States all year long.
Paz said that avocados are consumed in over 50% of US households, and Mexico provides 80% of the total.
“So even if they put up some kind of obstacle, Americans will still be eating Mexican avocados, even though they have to pay a little more for them,” he said.
But yes, he believes the demand will be the same: “They won’t stop enjoying them because the price goes up or down a little. It’s a stable demand. The price would increase just an extra few cents, so the fruit will remain affordable for the consumer,” he said.
The consultant also said that any potential obstacle to free trade would be “counterproductive, because he (Trump) could take in that money for the government but he’d be penalizing his own people, the consumers.”
The increase in consumption of avocados over the years has been largely due to promotion by the producers, as well as studies that show the benefits of the fruit.
“It’s a very nutritious product, very healthy – it has no negative side for the consumer,” he said.
But all doesn’t begin and end with the USA.
“At the same time we in the association have spent a number of years developing alternative markets, which are admittedly all much smaller – Japan, Canada (the third NAFTA partner), Europe, Central and South America, and more recently China,” Paz said.
“We had seen that strategically it was necessary to diversify our exports. It’s no good depending on just one market,” the consultant said.
But anyway, it seems that Americans will continue enriching their dishes with Mexican avocados for years to come, and particularly during Super Bowl LI this Sunday.