Mexican state police gather at a checkpoint established by protesting growers of Mexican avocados. ( Courtesy APEAM )

See updated content: Avocado harvest resumes in Mexico.

UPDATED: A group of “dissident growers” of avocados in Mexico are impeding harvest crews from entering orchards, and importers say inventories are dropping quickly.

“Prices are going up because the perception is that the availability is running out,” Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing for Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif., said Oct. 31. “We’re watching it every day and we’re raising prices every day.”

He called it an “extreme situation.”

Growers for Mission Produce Inc., Oxnard, Calif., had not harvested the week of Oct. 29 as of halfway through the week, putting the company “on pins and needles” waiting for a resolution, Brent Scattini, vice president of sales and marketing, said Oct. 31.

While avocados can stay on trees longer than other types of tree fruit, a long delay can affect the next season’s harvest, Scattini said.

“With the amount of crop that’s out, there are risks in doing that,” he said.

“I’m hoping it doesn’t last any more than this week,” he said.

APEAM, the Association of Producers and Exporter of Avocados from Mexico, sent a statement to U.S. importers on Oct. 30.

“ … Very little harvesting operations have taken place yesterday and today,” according to the statement, which details how harvest crews are being denied access to orchards. In some cases, trucks that were able to get to harvest were retained later in the day.

Wedin said APEAM is “trying to get a reasonable dialogue going,” but in the statement, the group said efforts have been unsuccessful.

“They are limited on what they can do,” Wedin said.

In the statement, APEAM blames the same group of growers for similar tactics in 2016, going so far as to occupy APEAM offices. While that hasn’t happened in the recent protest, the message about concerns over low wages is the same.

“They are being led by a few people who want to remain ignorant about the realities of markets and who, in bad faith, blame APEAM and the packers for those perceived low prices,” according to the APEAM statement.

Shipments in late October were ahead of last season, with total shipments to the U.S. since July 1 up 18%. Shipments the week of Oct. 21 were more than 42 million pounds, and average more than 39 million pounds in the past month, according to APEAM.

Illegal fruit?


Several Mexican media outlets, including the newspaper El Universal, said the growers are protesting the illegal exports of avocados from outside Michoacan to the U.S. and other countries. 

According to the article — translated into English-langauge online publications, the growers are blocking roads to stop the influx of avocados into the state. Michoacan is the only state allowed to export avocados to the U.S.

Jose Luis Mata, a representative for an avocado growers’ association, said that a majority of growers are striking because of “corruption” that’s allowing the export of the non-Michoacan fruit, at a lower price.

Mata told El Universal the stoppage would continue until the flow of avocados from other states stops.

Tom Burfield contributed to this article.

 
Comments
Submitted by Sean on Thu, 11/01/2018 - 08:32

You present a very disappointing, small-minded approach in this article. There are real concerns about abuse and corruption here that are completely ignored. It's appropriate that your angle speaks to concerns for the US market, but there's no need to throw the protesters under the bus and speak ill of their intelligence. APEAM presents an ignorant and mean-spirit angle on the article that should have been countered with quotes from someone who would address the growers' concerns.

Submitted by Carlos on Sat, 11/03/2018 - 12:32

Yes! Thank you, Sean, the truth is that this is only the tip of the iceberg and has been going on for years now. The U.S. should be more concerned with the situation and help find a solution. I am in a unique position I am a packer myself and have been a farmer most of my life so I see both sides of the story and the truth is that everyone pitches in their ten cents to corruption And abuse regulations for personal benefit I'm talking packers farmers, APEAM, employees Sanidad vegetal employes yes its all a big mess, but all sections of the industry from farmers harvesters transporters packing house and 3rd party certificates they are all cooperating to making importing from other states into Michoacan and from here straight to united states market which is illegal by all means because of U.S. regulations with is something I don't really understand why the U.S. only want avocado from the state of Michoacan but that's how it is. In my opinion farmers are simply protesting because of low prices but prices are low because of all the fruit coming in the the states as if it had exportation characteristics that are very tightly regulated to farmers in Michoacan other state have no such certifications to comply with US regulations so packers are buying out of state fruit for pennies of the dollar taking it to Michoacan packing and shipping as if it were premium and certified meanwhile farmers are not very happy with this because it obviously drives the price down because of demand being fulfilled under the table by out of state uncertified avocado. So farmers are protesting because nothing is being done farmers peaceful protest is also being oppressed by the government and boycotted by the packers sending harvester employees to protest mire violently then blaming farmers for it, on the other hand, the framers are protesting in a very inconvenient way what they want is a fair price for their product and stop illegal activities that affect the price of their product in US market but the truth is that they are crippling the whole industry transporter harvesters people who pack for national market in Mexico o processors who make frozen halves or guacamole the truth is that they are not only stopping individuals that are key to the problem and corruption, but instead stoping avocados, in general, they are not only preventing avocado to go into the state but they are also preventing local fruit from leaving the state go out to their destinations regardless if the Avocado is going to the U.S. market or not with is making a huge conflict locally And can only imagine the tolls it takes in the U.S. from stopping operations completely I think the angle the person wrighting the article should take is not one where u put down a farmer for protesting we do have freedom of speech like you all, or of taking a packers side and the end of the day you are a consumer! even if you do work for THE PACKER and your concern should be that that without your knowledge you could be eating avocados that don't comply with certificates and regulations that your country has set upon which I'm pretty sure are there for a good reason, don't you all think?

In reply to by Sean (not verified)

Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 11/03/2018 - 13:15

Wow who ever you are congrats on this post. You are absolutly correct and well informed. I am so proud of all the producers that are part of the strike because they are willing to fight (of course in a peaceful way) for whats right. And its not what apeam said that its a few people. They are thousands of producers on this strike.

In reply to by Carlos (not verified)

Submitted by Carlos on Sat, 11/03/2018 - 18:04

Thank you, Anonymous :) I can't really pick a side but I can point out things that are ridiculous like the fact that farmers are being oppressed for protesting peacefully, also the fact that APEAM in English don't quote me on this is "Association of Producers and Packers Exporters of Avocado of Mexico" producers meaning "farmers". When locally we all know that for years has been and will continue to be supporting PACKERS interest and wishes because they are the ones handling the money APEAM is a private nonprofit organization it would be oblivious to think an organization so big that receives no money from farmers but yet is the connection between USDA and Sagarpa witch are government operated wouldn't be involved in some serious lobbying they are without a doubt on the Packers side when in reality they should be the ones making sure that these kinds of events don't happen .... but instead they have gone as far as -calling them "pirate" or " bootleg" farmers saying its a small group of farmers when in reality they are thousands. Farmers who are not participating are farmer who have huge farms and huge harvests farmers who have been friends of pack houses for years and always sell at an excellent price because of the volume the big farmers produce they get special contracts and treatments from the packhouse as much as loans moths before harvesting for their macro harvest, so they have no problem. The smaller farmers are the ones who get abused. Another important part to point out APEAMS president Gabriel Villaseñor is a packer himself one of the biggest in the states if I may point out BONANZA is the name of his packhouse its very nieve to think they care about the farmers, you can find articles in Spanish of him saying he has been trying to talk to farmers to come to an agreement but that farmers are unwilling to dialog with him, which is completely false he has gone as far as making appointments with them and simply not showing up. Like I said I am a packer and farmer myself and I also do not agree with the impact the strike is having here locally and in the industry north of the border, but i also think farmers are really underrepresented by the organization that is supposed to represent them in the first place and I don't think it is fair they are getting nasty PR for simply protesting and almost all of the articles you will find will prove how underrepresented they are.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 11/03/2018 - 21:00

Everything you say is exactly what my husband says. He is too a producer. And im seeing how much effort and dedication he is putting into this strike. I hardly see him because of everything thats going on but i know its for a good cause. i am very proud of him and the rest of the producers

In reply to by Carlos (not verified)

Submitted by billy b on Thu, 11/01/2018 - 14:47

From the surface it appears as manipulated corruption in the fact that it is purposely controlling supply to create an artificial market. The reality is the fruit is actually on the tree and available for market. In our country we would call this gouging, by controlling supply with price, regardless of available inventory. The only benefiting parties are the growers by high dollar returns. This exact thing happened with limes a few years back, of course same countries involved. How do you tell your contracted customers of this situation? Its not force majeure or Act of God situation, its purely man made.

Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 11/02/2018 - 13:09

Los productores de aguacate solo exigen que les paguen lo justo por todo un año de cuidar, dar mantenimiento, esfuerzo y trabajo en sus huertos, ya que es el medio para sustentar a sus familias, lo que están haciendo de pagar muy barato el aguacate al productor es un abuso, simplemente exigen paguen que lo justo, no es simple capricho o que se aferren a hacer injusticias, simplemente sean justos, ¿en cuanto dan un aguacate en USA? Lo dan en 1 o 2 dolares 1 solo aguacate mientras que al productor no le pagan ni siquiera un dólar por kilogramo. No es ignorancia es pago justo y digno.

Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 11/02/2018 - 21:10

Las empresas como mission, avocados y otras saben muy bien lo que están haciendo, y están violando los acuerdos, comprando de forma ilícita aguacate que no cumple con los requisitos de acreditación y el motivo es por que se los pagan más barato y les deja más ganancia, los aguacateros solo piden que paguen lo justo.