Emiliano Escobedo, executive director of the Irvine, Calif.-based Hass Avocado Board, said that the latest stories in the media have “falsely portrayed” the cartels’ effects on the avocado industry.
Escobedo said he had “no way of confirming” whether growers are being extorted. He said many others have been affected by the drug trade for years, not just the avocado industry.
“I don’t think this is anything new,” he said. “The Mexican avocado industry, like many other industries and companies, has been the victim of widespread problems fueled by the war on drugs.”
The drug trade has created an “unsafe environment” for many avocado grower-shippers and packers, as it has for more millions of other Mexicans, Escobedo said.
Despite those problems, he said, the avocado industry continues to grow. Mexico is on tap to once again send record shipments to the U.S. this season, he said.
Shipments year-to-date through early December also have not been affected, Escobedo said.
Importers of Mexican avocados either did not return requests for comment or would not comment.