US lifts its Mexican avocado ban after temporary halt
  • The US has lifted a short-lived ban on importing Mexican avocados.
  • The Biden administration announced a ban last week after a US inspector was verbally threatened.
  • The ban sparked fears of an avocado shortage and a potential increase in prices.

Loading Something is loading.

The Biden administration announced on Friday that the US has begun to import avocados from Mexico, following a ban after a USDA inspector was reportedly threatened.

“The safety of USDA employees simply doing their jobs is of paramount importance,” the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said in a statement. “USDA is appreciative of the positive, collaborative relationship between the United States and Mexico that made resolution of this issue possible in a timely manner. “

The US moved to temporarily halt all avocado imports last week after an inspector was verbally threatened for refusing to certify a shipment of the fruit, a US Agriculture Department agency said at the time. Drug cartels regularly threaten avocado farmers in Michoacán. 

“I had an interview with a cartel leader 10 years ago who was bragging about how much money he was making from avocados,” Falko Ernst, a Mexico analyst with the nonprofit International Crisis Group, told The New York Times.

The Washington Post reported that the inspector discovered a shipment of avocados from the state of Puebla that was marked for the US, which is not allowed. A threatening message was later left on the inspector’s phone. An experienced inspector, per the Post, can spot the differences in avocados based on their size, shape, skin, and texture.

Michoacán is the only Mexican state that is certified to export avocados to the US. But the explosion in demand for the fruit in recent years has led to intense pressure on inspectors as growers seek to slip in avocados from other regions, The Times reported. The resumption of inspections means imports should soon return too.

The ban came just ahead of the Super Bowl and immediately sparked fears of a shortage, especially ahead of Cinco de Mayo, the next big avocado-centric day. Experts told CBS News and other outlets that Americans would be expected to pay more for guacamole or avocado toast.

Chipotle said it had enough avocados to last a few weeks, but experts stressed that California could not produce enough of the fruit to meet the nation’s demand.

Read More