President Donald Trump’s threats last week to close the United States’ southern border are already affecting American consumers.
The price of Hass avocados jumped 34% on Tuesday, the largest spike in nearly a decade, amid the president’s threats that he would close the border unless Mexico stems the flow of migrants headed for the U.S.
Experts say the price will likely jump even more dramatically if Trump carries through with his threat.
“Avocado prices could easily double or triple if we shut down the border,” Roland Fumasi, vice president and senior analyst at Rabobank, a Dutch financial services company, told Bloomberg on Tuesday.
Americans’ appetite for avocados has exploded since 1994, when Mexico, Canada and the U.S. approved the North American Free Trade Agreement. Americans that year consumed just over 1 pound of the fruit per person, according to The New York Times. Roughly all of that was supplied by California.
Now Americans’ lust for avocados amounts to about 7 pounds per person per year. They mash it into guacamole, slice it into salads and, in a much-scoffed-at trend in recent years, layer it on top of toast.
Almost half of the imported vegetables and 40% of imported fruit in the U.S. ― including tomatoes, cucumbers, blackberries and raspberries ― are grown in Mexico, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Mexico produces roughly a third of the world’s avocados, more than any other country singlehandedly. Most of its crop is grown in Michoacán, a volcano-studded state dominated by violent cartels. Nearly 80% of the avocados purchased by U.S. consumers come from Mexico, according to the Haas Avocado Board.
Steve Barnard, president and chief executive of Mission Produce, the largest producer and distributor of avocados in the world, said that number is likely even higher. In an interview with Reuters on Monday, Barnard said Mexico is currently supplying the U.S. with “virtually 100 percent” of its avocados. That could be due to a heatwave last year in California, which has delayed this year’s harvest.
According to Barnard, Americans will run out of avocados in three weeks if Trump halts imports from Mexico.
“We would be out of business for a while,” Barnard said.
Trump has made previous threats to shut down the border because of his frustrations over Congress’ refusal to fully fund his proposed border wall and over the stream of asylum-seekers and other migrants making their way to the U.S. without authorization.
The president revived his threat last week when the number of families apprehended at the border hit its highest point in roughly a decade last month.
But it’s unclear if he will follow through, and a senior Department of Homeland Security official told reporters Friday that the agency was not preparing for an imminent border shutdown.