Avocados are a big part of game day tailgating, either served sliced or made into guacamole. Those green shiny fruits come from either Mexico in early spring or from California, Florida, and Hawaii later on in the year.
Harvesting avocados is not for the faint of heart in Mexico, as we have all seen the efforts drug smugglers use to smuggle narcotics into the United States inside legitimate shipments. Down south of the border, avocado growers have been up against truck hijackings and orchard takeovers.
Avocado theft and drug smuggling are parallel situations
According to an article by The Associated Press, the growers at one time dealt with up to two truck thefts a week. Truck drivers would be stopped by armed gunmen, beaten up, and left hogtied on the side of the road.
Now, convoys from orchards are protected by the Civil Guard, the state police force of Michoacan, Mexico. They leave small villages in the mountain regions and head for the avocado capital of the world, Tancitaro, and its packing and shipping plants.
Each day, 30-40 trucks line up with Civil Guard trucks mixed into the convoy. Three hundred tons of avocados make their way toward the processing plants, a very perilous 40-mile drive.
How much is the avocado harvest worth?
The fruits, and their haulers, are somewhat safer here due to the diligence of Michoacan Gov. Alfredo Ramírez Bedolla. He literally kicked off Super Bowl shipping season on Jan. 17 by kicking a pigskin in a makeshift football field. (You’re not dragging me into the football/soccer argument.)
Once the fruit is packed into their uniform crates, 40 fruits per unit, it’s easy to calculate the value of the load. At an average of $2.50 each, each crate is worth approximately $100.
Each truckload comes up to about $80,000-$100,000. Mexico provides about 92% of the annual avocado imports to the U.S., worth about $3 billion dollars.
This harvest season, running from January through March, avocado orchards hope to send 130,000 tons of green delicacies across the border. That’s a lot of ‘mole to be eaten as the dish is on the menus of every restaurant in town.
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