Mexican president accuses US of inventing plot to ban his country’s avocados: ‘There is something else behind it’

Mexican president says his country’s avocados would “rule” the US market thanks to their quality

Related video: Avocado, coffee and citrus fruits ‘threaten global food security’

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Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador has suggested US President Joe Biden and his administration conspired to ban the importation of Mexican avocados in an attempt to boost sales for US farmers.

“The truth is there is always something else behind it, an economic or commercial interest, or a political attitude,” Mr Lopez Obrador said. “[The Biden administration] don't want Mexican avocados to get into the United States, right, because it would rule in the United States because of its quality.”

The US banned Mexican avocados after an American health inspector in Michoacán was reportedly threatened for blocking their shipment of the fruit.

"US health authorities ... made the decision after one of their officials, who was carrying out inspections in Uruapan, Michoacán, received a threatening message on his official cellphone," a spokesperson for Mexico's Agriculture Department said in a statement.

Avocado supply in the US is dwindling as a result of the ban, and will likely run out within the next two weeks.

It is unclear how long the ban will continue. The US has not elaborated on the nature of the threats made to the inspector.

Michoacán is the only Mexican state that has market access to the US, and provides American consumers with 8 out of every 10 avocados they purchase, according to The New York Times.

Unfortunately, the state has also been the site of turf battles between drug cartels, some which operate extortion rackets targeting the avocado farmers.

US avocado production – generally done in California – has dropped more than 45 per cent between 1998 and 2017, according to the Avocado Institute of Mexico. Despite the drop in production, there has not been a drop in demand; US consumption of the fruit has risen 800 per cent since 1980.

Mexico’s president, despite insinuating that a darker conspiracy was afoot, also appeared to downplay the ban.

“The truth, the Mexican avocados have already been exported,” he said during a news briefing. “They already enjoyed the avocados.”

However, he then snapped back to the dark musings, suggesting that other nations or organisations were trying to shoulder their way into the avocado market.

“There are other countries that are interested in selling avocados, as in the case of other farm products, so they lobby, they look for senators, professional public (relations) people and agencies, to put up obstacles,” he said.

It is unclear if the Mexican president’s claims are based on legitimate information or simply speculation.

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