A 2-week disruption in avocado shipments from Mexico has caused avocado prices to rise everywhere--except at Chipotle.
In early November the flow of avocados over the US-Mexico border abruptly came to a halt. Millennials and hipsters from across America cried out in terror as their toast remained un-avocadoed thanks to every increasing avocado prices. A poor California harvest meant that a true shortage was underway, with avocado prices rising to be as high as $4. Per. Fruit.
The whole thing came down to a trade dispute in Mexico. Farmers were asking for a better price for the literal fruits of their labor, while packagers were fighting to keep the price low, arguing that farmers already made a hefty profit.
Poor Mexican farmers don’t really appreciate being told to remain poor, so they went on strike. Avocados went back on the trees as farmers refused to pick them. Not a single dimpled green fruit went off to the packing companies, which meant zero avocados crossed the border.
The US wasn’t the only country affected. Canada and Japan too saw a huge price increase in avocados. But with America accounting for 77% of the Mexican harvest, and combined with a poor harvest in California, it meant that there were not enough avocados to go around.
Some US restaurant chains, like Dig Inn, were forced to remove avocados from their menu as carrying them had become unprofitable. All eyes turned to Chipotle, the largest user of avocados in the country, to see what they would do.
Chipotle didn’t even blink.
Using on-hand stores, Chipotle kept their avocados on the menu and waited out the trade dispute. The avocado trade group APEAM eventually reached an agreement on November 14th, and the flow of green mushy fruits eventually returned to America on November 18th.
However, avocado prices remain high as Chipotle and other avocado-serving restaurant chains buy up the fruit as soon as they cross the border. Expect those prices to remain stubbornly expensive until the supply chain settles down.