A top avocado importer sent shock waves through avocado-loving corners of the internet Monday with a revelation reported by Reuters: Americans could run out of the beloved fruit in as little as three weeks if President Donald Trump closes the country’s border with Mexico.
Trump has threatened to do that to stem the flow of Central American immigrants coming to the U.S. by way of Mexico.
“Mexico must use its very strong immigration laws to stop the many thousands of people trying to get into the USA,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday, alluding to “maxed out” detention areas in the U.S. “Next step is to close the Border!”
That action would set off a domino effect of consequences, the Associated Press reports.
“If trade were interrupted, U.S. producers would suffer crippling disruptions of their supply chains, American families would see prices spike for food and cars, and U.S. exporters would be cut off from their third-largest market,” said economist Dan Griswold of George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, adding that about $1.6 billion worth of goods travel over the U.S.-Mexico border daily, according to AP.
And then there are the avocados.
Steve Barnard, president of California-based Mission Produce, the world’s largest avocado distributor, said “you couldn’t pick a worse time of year because Mexico supplies virtually 100 percent of the avocados in the U.S. right now,” according to Reuters.
The California Avocado Commission says avocados grown in California will be in season in May.
“California is just starting and they have a very small crop, but they’re not relevant right now and won’t be for another month or so,” Barnard said, according to Reuters.
Mission Produce’s marketing director confirmed those comments in an email to McClatchy on Monday afternoon.
“Everything Steve said is true,” Denise Junqueiro wrote, adding that “Mexico is the largest supplier of avocados to the U.S. and at certain times of the year they are the only or dominant source of supply.”
Junqueiro said Americans consume roughly 49 million pounds of avocados every week.
But not everyone is worried about running low on avocados.
Ann Coulter — a conservative pundit and “the world’s leading consumer of margaritas and guacamole,” in her own estimation — wrote on Twitter that she “would fully support a shortage of avocados if it also meant a shortage of illegals.”
Avocados aren’t the only kind of produce at risk.
Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, said as many as 12,000 trucks carrying 50 million pounds of eggplants, tomatoes, berries, cucumbers and more cross the Mexican border at Nogales, Arizona, every day — and that if the border closed, there would soon be layoffs, higher prices at the supermarket and shortages, AP reports.
“If this happens — and I certainly hope it doesn’t — I’d hate to go into a grocery store four or five days later and see what it looks like,” Jungmeyer said, according to AP.