By KELIN DILLON
While many U.S. citizens are anticipating to celebrate the National Football League’s (NFL) 57th Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 13 with a customary bowl full of guacamole, most are blissfully unaware of the dangers Mexico’s avocado transporters face in their quest to get the fruits exported to the United States.
Mexico exports nearly $3 billion worth of avocados to the United States every year, with the bulk of the exports coming from the state of Michoacán, which supplies approximately 80 percent of the U.S. annual avocado demand.
However, Michoacán is well-known for being plagued with violence as the region’s competing organized crime groups battle against one another to gain control of the surrounding territory, often at the expense of the area’s residents.
According to some of Michoacán’s avocado transporters, the route from the state’s mountainside avocado farms to packaging and processing plants in the city of Uruapan is so dangerous that transporters require police escorts to make it to their final destination safely and with their cargo intact.
One such avocado transporter, Jesús Quintero, revealed to the Associated Press that the average price tag of a truck-full of a truck of avocados is around $100,000, making the cargo a ripe target for the Michoacán region’s organized crime groups, kidnapping gangs and common criminals alike.
Michoacán’s avocado growers would purportedly experience three to four truck thefts per day before the amped-up patrols, with many of the criminals not only electing to steal the avocado haul, but also commandeering the transport vehicle themselves.
But by Quintero’s account, “it is more peaceful now with the patrol trucks accompanying us, because this is a very dangerous area,” with Michoacán police officer Jorge González going on to reveal that the police escorts have reportedly cut the region’s avocado-truck robbery rate by 90 to 95 percent.
Though these new transport standards have made the avocados’ journey to the United States measurably more secure, Mexican avocados are now facing a new setback for their successful export to the U.S. – this time, through the reactivation of a complaint with the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CCA) surrounding Mexican avocado farming’s purported environmental damages and its purported infractions against international trade treaties.
Launched under the framework of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the complaint alleges that the expansion of Mexico’s avocado farming has caused deforestation, overuse of pesticides and water contamination throughout the Michoacán region. The CAA is set to review the petition within the next 30 days, though the commission does not have the jurisdiction to levy sanctions regardless of its findings.
While the outcome of the USMCA complaint against Mexico’s avocado farming is yet to be determined, the new safety standards for Michoacán’s avocado farmers means U.S. NFL fans can rest assured they’ll have plenty of Mexico’s favorite fruit export to create their beloved game-day guacamole this Super Bowl Sunday.