NAFTA Fruits: Booming U.S. Avocado Consumption

A blog about business and economics.
Sept. 20 2012 1:56 PM

The Avocado Boom: Brought to You by NAFTA

Haas Avocados

Wikimedia commons

Annie Marie Chaker (via Philip Bump) writes in the Wall Street Journal about Americans' burgeoning taste for avocados, which have exploded beyond the confines of guacamole into a multipurpose treat. This is, as she notes, partially just a fad and partially a fad driven by changing thinking about health, fat, "superfoods," and the like. 

But it's also a trade policy story.


After all, it's long been the case that Californians slap avocados on everything. I remember visiting the Golden State in the mid-'90s having rarely eaten avocados in New York, taken aback to find them on basically every burger and sandwich in sight. The issue is that avocados were grown in California and at that time couldn't be exported from Mexio. After the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was ratified in 1994, Mexican avocado growers had high hopes of cracking the American market. But avocado protectionists argued that the importation of Mexican avocados would introduce a particular kind of fruit fly.

Over the course of the aughts, some parts of the United States that are too cold for fruit flies were opened to Mexican imports and since 2007 USDA inspectors have been on the ground in Mexico and Mexican avocados are cleared for import everywhere. Not coincidentally, we're experiencing a boom in avocado consumption over the past five years. In the long run, NAFTA worked and now Americans can enjoy this delicious treat. Mexico, meanwhile, has steadily moved up the value chain and now is a major industrial exporter alongside the avocados.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers


Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
Dear Prudence
Oct. 23 2014 6:00 AM Monster Kids from poorer neighborhoods keep coming to trick-or-treat in mine. Do I have to give them candy?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.