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Hand injuries are painful and expensive.

Tim Nelson
January 15, 2019

Avocado hand: it’s not a superpower that lets you instantly generate a pricy toast topping on command, but a real injury that’s sent scores of foodies with poor knife skills to the ER. It’s such a real threat that there’s a market for frozen avocado chunks for those truly worried about preserving their digits.

Now, there’s data we can use to quantify avocado hand’s financial toll— at least in New Zealand. The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), the sole insurance organization responsible for covering all Kiwis in the event of accidents and injuries, has crunched the numbers to declare that avocado-related mishaps have added up to NZ$800,000 (~US$544,000) in damage payouts since the start of 2016.

Based on a more specific breakdown of these accidents and their associated costs, things seem to be getting worse each year. According to the New Zealand Herald, 428 Kiwis ended up injuring themselves when taking a knife to an avocado in 2018, up from 402 the year before and 374 in 2016. Last year’s incidents cost the ACC NZ$320,371 (~US$217,946), up from NZ$232,323 (US$158,048) back in 2016.

The numbers may seem small, but it’s important to place them in context. Based on data from the World Bank, New Zealand’s population as of 2017 was roughly 4,793,900. That means roughly 0.008% of the country’s residents wound up needing medical attention for avocado hand that year. If that was applied to the US population, it’d mean more than 26,000 Americans were wounding themselves trying to slice open some green gold. That’d add up to at least US$13,269,017 in damage payouts (before accounting for,the vast differences in how healthcare systems, that is).

All this data seems to confirm the anecdotal evidence coming from surgeons and other medical professionals who’ve attested to the rash of avocado injuries in recent times. For example, one UK surgeon told The Times that he’d been seeing four avocado hand patients per week.

Between the injuries and an escalating war between growers and thieves, it’s safe to say that the 23,716 tons of avocado New Zealand produced in 2017 are causing their fair share of problems in the land next to the land Down Under. Here’s to hoping that avocado fiends around the globe stay safe around sharp objects in 2019.

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