FOOD & DRINK
05/02/2017 05:25 pm ET

Why Avocados Are Costing You A Fortune

Skyrocketing demand and low crop yields are a pricey combo.

If avocados are one of your kitchen staples ― and why wouldn’t they be ― we have some bad news: They’re more expensive than ever, and prices could keep going up.

The price of Hass avocados from Michoacan state, Mexico’s largest producer, is the highest in 19 years, Bloomberg reports, fueled by rising demand and smaller crop yields. A 22-pound box of avocados was just under $28 last week, more than double the price from a year earlier. 

The Michoacan price doesn’t represent the entire industry, and prices fluctuate with seasons and weather. Last June, for example, the cost for a box surged to about $26.60 before dropping again.

Still, more than 80 percent of avocados sold in the U.S. come from Mexico. Shipments from the country are forecast to decline over the next two months, which could cause the price to climb even higher. 

California is the next-largest supplier of avocados for the U.S., and things aren’t looking great there, either. According to the California Avocado Commission trade group, this year’s harvest is predicted to be down 44 percent from 2016, in part because of weather last year, and because avocados are an alternate-bearing crop, with smaller harvests often following larger ones.

Of course, demand doesn’t following that cycle, if you haven’t noticed from the onslaught of avocado toast pictures filling your Instagram feed. Per-capita consumption has doubled in the last decade, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

People also are eating more avocados in other countries, particularly in China, where imports from Mexico have risen rapidly in the last few years.

Restaurants continue banking on Americans’ love affair with avocados. Starbucks introduced an avocado spread in March, and an all-avocado restaurant opened in New York City last month.

At least one avocado-dependent restaurant, Chipotle Mexican Grill, appears to be passing on the rising costs to consumers. The chain raised prices in several hundred locations this year after saying in January that increased avocado prices had led to reduced profits the previous quarter.

But who wouldn’t be willing to blow their grocery budget for a little guacamole?

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