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Avocado Danger
News Bytes 02/6/2023 2 Comments

It is a long and sometimes dangerous journey. For truckers transporting certain shipments, the roads are beset by criminals and gangs. The cargo attracting so much risky attention? Avocados destined for guacamole in the United States during the Super Bowl.

In the United States, there’s plenty of chatter about Super Bowl 57. But south of the border, there’s less talk of Sunday’s NFL first: brothers Travis and Jason Kelce playing opposite each other.

Instead, the news is of the country’s famous fruit: avocados. Mexico supplies about 92% of U.S. avocado imports—over $3 billion worth of the fruit per year.

The perilous trip starts high in the mountains of the western Mexico state of Michoacan. Truck driver Jesús Quintero starts early in the morning. He gathers crates of avocados picked the day before in orchards around Santa Ana. With hundreds of 22-pound crates of the dark green fruit aboard his 10-ton truck, Quintero’s load represents a small fortune in these parts. Avocados sell for as much as $2.50 each in the United States. So a single crate holding 40 is worth $100. An average truckload is worth as much as $80,000 to $100,000.

Quintero takes his cargo to a weighing station and then joins other trucks in waiting for police. The police provide escorts for those brave enough to face the 40-mile trip to packing and shipping plants.

“It is more peaceful now with the patrol trucks accompanying us because this is a very dangerous area,” Quintero says.

Often, thieves don’t steal just the load. “Sometimes they’d take the truck as well,” Quintero says. “They would steal two or three trucks per day in this area.” Such thefts “have gone down a lot” since the police escorts started.

State police officer Jorge González says the convoys escort about 40 trucks per day. They ensure that around 300 tons of avocados reach the packing plants daily.

Once the avocados reach Uruapan or the neighboring city of Tancitaro, the path to the north is somewhat safer.

The shipment north of avocados for Super Bowl season has become an annual event. It is a welcome diversion from the drumbeat of crimes in the city.

On January 17, Michoacan Governor Alfredo Ramírez Bedolla “kicked off” the first Super Bowl avocado shipments . . . literally. He kicked a football through tiny goalposts on an imitation football field.

This year, Michoacan growers hope to put last year’s fiasco behind them. The U.S. government had suspended inspections of the fruit in February 2022, right before the Super Bowl. U.S. agricultural inspectors must confirm that the Mexican fruits don’t carry diseases or pests that would harm U.S. orchards. Inspections were halted for about 10 days after a U.S. inspector received threats. Some Michoacan packers bought avocados from non-licensed states and tried to pass them off as being from Michoacan. They were angry the inspector wouldn’t go along with the deception.

Exports resumed after Mexico and the United States agreed to enact “measures that ensure the safety” of the inspectors.

“This season we are going to recover the confidence of the producers, growers, and consumers,” the governor says.

Behind him, a big tractor trailer bore a huge sign reading “Let’s Go! Super Bowl 2023.”

(Men harvest avocados at an orchard in Santa Ana Zirosto, Mexico, on January 26, 2023. AP/Armando Solis)

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Most recent comments

who do yall think is going to

who do yall think is going to win the Super Bowl? Im going Eagles


I’m going chiefs, but I’m from Kansas city so…

Also I hope avocado truckers stay safe

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