The Association of Avocado Exporting Producers and Packers of Mexico (APEAM) is a nonprofit organization that represents 30,000 avocado farmers and 74 packing houses in Michoacán, Mexico, and is the only Mexican association cleared to export avocados to the U.S.
More than 2 billion pounds of avocados from Mexico are consumed in the United States every year. Naturally, a large part of that popularity can be attributed to the avocado’s unique taste, texture, and wide range of nutritional benefits. But behind the fruit’s prestige are thousands of individuals who grow, pack, and export avocados to the U.S., making them accessible to consumers year-round — and those growers and packers find organization, unification, and the capacity to export their produce by assembling under the banner of APEAM.
The Association of Avocado Exporting Producers and Packers of Mexico (APEAM) is a nonprofit civil association comprised of avocado producers and packers in Michoacán. They collectively represent an estimated:
Recognized by the USDA, APEAM is the only cooperative association that is cleared to export avocados to the U.S.
In the mid-1990s, a group of avocado producers from Michoacán sought to export their avocados to the U.S. market. When they approached U.S. merchants on the matter, they were faced with the task of proving that their orchards were pest-free. This impetus, along with the passing of NAFTA in 1993, led to talks between the USDA and Mexico’s Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER). The negotiations between SADER and the USDA continued until 1997, at which time they came to an agreement — thus APEAM was born and became the first and only Mexican business partner of the U.S. with legal capacity to export avocados to its northern neighbor.
APEAM’s internal structure represents the unity between the producers and packers who comprise the association. Members of the board of directors are elected by a general assembly of 24 growers and 24 packers. The board consists of ten members:
So that there’s equal representation, the president and secretary are always either producers or packers; the vice president and treasurer, the opposite.
APEAM’s Honor and Justice Board (JHJ) consists of one producer and one packer, also elected by the general assembly. The JHJ supervises the transparency and legitimacy of APEAM’s operations: They audit and approve financial statements, ensuring that resources are used properly, and expenditures are honest.
Today, APEAM’s mission is to export a top-quality product, and, to APEAM, “quality” means more than delicious avocados. The association orchestrates food safety, traceability, efficiency, transparency, and sustainability in each and every orchard, packing house, and delivery truck that crosses the U.S.-Mexico border. These principles provide prosperity to the farmers and packers, but also to the communities in which its members work and live.
APEAM works closely with national and international authorities to guarantee food safety compliance in the orchards, packing houses, and in between. Entities that recognize and work with APEAM include:
APEAM links this health and safety work to the export process by partnering with the Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association (MHAIA), which supports research, development, and marketing programs for Hass avocados imported to the U.S. from Mexico. In 2013, under the supervision of the USDA, APEAM and MHAIA created Avocados From Mexico, a non-profit marketing organization. It is charged to build a brand for Mexican avocados and to drive avocado demand in the U.S. The organization has been a fundamental stimulus in growing the industry’s market share in the U.S.
APEAM’s hard work and cooperation with national and international authorities has led to an expanded market — today, Mexican avocados are being enjoyed in the U.S., Canada, China, Spain, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, the Netherlands, and El Salvador, among others.
But their efforts have born more fruit than just avocados. By building the avocado industry in Michoacán, APEAM has improved the businesses of small farmers through viable and sustainable production. Their work has encouraged regional economic growth, creating approximately 78,000 direct and permanent jobs and over 310,000 seasonal jobs. Michoacán has historically been one of the largest sources of migrant workers to the U.S., but the economic opportunities provided by the avocado industry have led to a drastic cut in undocumented emigration from the state.
The organization and leadership of APEAM has created 78,000 direct and permanent jobs and 310,000 seasonal jobs in Michoacán alone.
The success of the avocado industry has also given APEAM the opportunity to give back to the communities and ecosystems of Michoacán. APEAM, in partnership with the Lazos Foundation, has invested more than $3 million in local Michoacán schools since 2011, significantly improving attendance and graduation rates and benefitting 7,839 students. Committed to sustainability and environmental protection, APEAM launched a reforestation initiative in 2011 that has seen the planting of more than 2.2 million plants in the Michoacán area.
Above all, APEAM has united, supported, and guided thousands of growers and exporters for more than 23 years, enabling them to achieve their common goal: bringing safe, responsible, and sustainable avocados to tables around the world, all while benefitting their communities and families at home.
The Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association (MHAIA) is dedicated to a consistent and reliable supply of high quality avocados from…
A proud partner of the Lazos Foundation since 2011, APEAM supports the organization in making a positive impact on 24…