Climate change, beetles present problem for avocado products

Stefanie Chan/WSN

Climate change and Ambrosia beetles might be ruining guacamole.

The beetles have caused an avocado shortage in the southeastern United States because they burrow into trees, infect them with laurel-wilt disease and kill them. The shortage has resulted in an increase in avocado prices.

Climate change has also contributed to the shortage — weather changes like drought can impact the availability of avocados.

Recently there was an uproar on social media when Chipotle reportedly considered taking guacamole off their menu due to decreased availability and rising costs. However, Chipotle assured the public the problem had been overstated and the supposed “guacapocalypse” was unlikely. Other taquerias are also facing problems with the prices of avocados.

Leo Kremer, co-founder of local taqueria Dos Toros, said the problem will affect his chain.

“The avocado issue is definitely going to raise our supply costs,” Kremer said. “But we’re going to hold the line on the guacamole price we charge our guests.”

Dorado Tacos’ co-owner Michael Brau said there were multiple factors that caused the increase in prices of avocados.

“Though our avocado prices have fluctuated throughout the year from $36 to $75 a case, Dorado Tacos has been notified that price variations are caused by supply and demand factors related to weather, transportation and other factors,” Brau said.

Both Dos Toros and Dorado Tacos source their avocados from relatively large produce companies. Dos Toros buys their avocados from Calavo, a company based in California, while Dorado Tacos buys theirs from NYC Produce, a Bronx company that specializes in Mexican and Central American groceries.

Calavo sources its avocados from Mexico, Chile and New Zealand, as well as U.S. avocado growers mainly in California, according to the company’s website. This will allow Calavo to work around the Ambrosia beetle issue, even if it spreads to California, which it has yet to do. NYC Produce will be able to work around the issue if it remains contained in the southeastern United States.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 25 print edition. Kari Sonde is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected]