Photo by Nicolas Balcazar / EyeEm

The US bought a lot of green gold last year

Tim Nelson
February 15, 2018

Avocados. We eat a lot of them. Somehow they’ve managed to be both wildly expensive and wildly popular than any other fruit, and now there’s data to prove it.

According to data from the International Trade Centre, 2017 marked the first year that the value of avocados imported to the United States exceeded the value of imported bananas. American grocers bought up $2.72 billion worth of avocados last year (86% of which came from Mexico), eclipsing bananas by $200 million. The dollar value of imported avocados jumped by roughly $800 million from 2016’s previous record of $1.92 billion.

The popular green toast spread’s newfound leader status was primarily driven by changes in the marketplace and consumer habits. After crunching the numbers, the average value of a ton of avocados in 2017 was $3,030.42, up from $2,682.45 the year before. The same weight of bananas only netted $525.25 in 2017, down from $780.59 in 2016.

Though the economics of supply and demand explain why banana prices fell as imports increased from (3.1 to 4.8 million tons), that isn’t true for the avocado. That price rise took place in the context of a year-over-year supply increase (from 742,936 imported tons in 2016 to 900,186 in 2017), which negates the argument that a weak crop bolstered prices.

California wildfires may have played a tiny role in driving up demand for imports at the end of the year, but it’s really our insatiable collective appetite that’s responsible for the avocado’s rise to the status of most valuable fruit. With avocado-centric restaurants now attracting Shark Tank investment, this trend in the data doesn’t look poised for a reversal any time soon.

 

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