avocado (Persea americana)

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Where Avocados are Grown

Historically, avocados originated in Mexico and Central and South America.

Mexico is the top avocado producing country in the world which produced 1.52 Million tonnes in 2017. The majority of the avocados in Mexico, 86%, are grown in the following states: Puebla, Morelos, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Mexico.

The second largest producer of avocados is the Dominican Republic which produced almost 64 million tonnes in 2017, which was almost a 6% increase from the previous year. Although most avocados in the DR are consumed nationally, they exported $239million in avocados in 2017 and are encouraging avocado tree planting to reforest the country and increase exports

Other countries that produce avocados in millions of tonnes include: Peru (.35), Indonesia (.31), Colombia (.28) and Chile (.168)

Avocado trees were first planted in Florida in 1833 and then in California in 1856.

Approximately 5,000 growers in California now account for 90% of domestic avocado production in the United States.

The US produced approximately .146 million tonnes of avocados in 2018 (NASS)

Florida and Hawaii account for 10% US domestic avocado production

Only 10% of the US demand is met by domestically-grown avocados

In 2017, the United States imported $2.6 billion in fresh avocados and exported approximately $28,500 in fresh avocados (ERS 2018)

Mexico supplied 80% of avocados imported into the United States in 2017 (CAC)

The remaining 20% was imported from Chile, Peru, and the Dominican Republic

In Season

Avocado harvest can begin in the late fall or early winter and may continue until the following fall. In Florida, avocados are harvested from late May through March.

Economic Impact

The avocado industry provides 40,000 jobs and 70,000 seasonal jobs in Mexico.

The Dominican Republic generated nearly $49 million U.S. dollars from avocado exports to the US in 2017.

US consumption of avocados increased six-fold from 436 million pounds.in 1985 to over 2.6 billion pounds in 2019. Per capita consumption has increased from 2 pounds in 2001 to nearly 8 pounds in 2018.

The US importation of avocados generated approximately 3.5 billion in economic output, $1.2 billion in labor income, $594 million in taxes, and 18,695 jobs in 2015.

The California avocado industry creates more than $15.9 billion annually, $43.5 million each day of the year and $1.8 million each hour of the day supporting more than 3,500 jobs (CAC)

The Florida avocado Industry is estimated to produce more than $55 million annually and supports over 1,000 full-time and part-time jobs.

Environmental Impact

Land that was already deforested for defunct agriculture is now being forested with avocado trees.


Avocado trees require about 2,000 liters of water (about 528 gallons) to produce a kilo of avocados (about 2.2 pounds). The heavy water consumption puts a strain on aquifers and local water resources. UNESCO has listed avocado as one of 3 crops of concern causing water stress in the regions where they are grown.
Poor agriculture practices such as slash and burn agriculture are removing trees and shrubs of diverse forest to plant avocado and reducing biodiversity.
Avocados is a heavy crop requiring large amounts of nutrients and water. When avocado is grown as a monoculture, it degrades the soil of vital nutrients and organisms leaving the crop more susceptible to disease and blight. Degraded soil makes it difficult for other plants and microorganisms to survive as well as the creatures that depend on them poor soil and biodiversity leads to excessive fertilizer and pesticides which are sources of point source pollution.
Deforestation, transportation and poor agricultural practices have had some studies find the greenhouse gas footprint of the avocado industry to be excessive.

Avocados can be healthy, tasty and trendy, but overexploitation can have severe social and environmental consequences. More standards,regulation and certifications are needed to make sure the industry growth is sustainable. Regenerative agriculture practices could be employed to prevent some of the harmful effects of the avocado industry.

Be aware of what you consume and try to buy fairtrade whenever possible.

There needs to be thought put into the rapid growth of the avocado industry and its economic impact on jobs and people vs its impact on the environment and organized crime.

What are some ways we can address the issues involved in the avocado industry while maintaining the social wellbeing of people and the planet?

Social Impact

The economic impact on rural communities has provided employment to thousands of workers who now can provide for their families.

The tax revenue has allowed governments to afford better social services, infrastructure and facilities to improve education and health for citizens.

When avocados are grown for export and not for local communities, it can have a negative impact on water resources and local food security.

In Mexico, cartels such as the Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) or the Jalisco New Generation Cartel control much of the state of Michoacán and other parts of Mexico where avocados are grown. The cartels extort money from avocado producers as a protection fee to avoid harm to the crops, workers, or families. Through blackmail and intimidation of officials and stakeholders, cartels extract money from the avocado industry that affect profits and wages.

78 percent of consumers say the top barrier to buying avocados is “avocados are frequently too expensive”

Food Safety

High moisture and lipid content makes avocados susceptible to bacteria growth. Foodborne pathogens are at risk because avocados are mostly consumed raw and often mixed with other raw ingredients to make guacamole. The FDA has tightened restrictions on avocado food safety to prevent spread of pathogens such as Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. Food safety standards of “clean, separate, cook, and chill” precautions must be taken for proper storage, food worker handling, and preparation. Wash avocados under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking, even if the skin will be removed prior to consumption.


Avocado Nutrition Facts Infographic



Agrmc.org Agriculture Marketing Research Center

The Hass Avocado Promotion and Research Order

California Avocado Commission 2016 (CAC).

Global Ag Trade System 2015, Foreign Ag Service, USDA.

New Phytosanitary Regulations Allow Higher Imports of Avocados. Amber Waves, ERS, USDA, 2006.

University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources

Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts 2014 Summary (July 2015), National Ag Statistics Service (NASS), USDA, 2015.

The Hass Avocado Promotion and Research Order: Offsetting Price Impacts from Imports with Advertising and Promotion, Working paper No. 04-006.

Statista, 2018.

National Agricultural Statistic Service (NASS), 2018.

Economic Research Service (ERS), 2018.

World Atlas.com

Food Source Information- Colorado Integrated Food Safety Center for Excellence