By José Armando López Orduña • Sep 7, 2020

The Association of Avocado Exporting Producers and Packers of Mexico (APEAM) is a nonprofit organization that represents more than 34,000 avocado farmers and more than 84 packing houses in 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 Mexico. They collectively represent an estimated:

  • More than 34,000 growers
  • 42,000 orchards
  • More than 84 packing houses
  • 338,500 acres of avocado farmland
  • 39 municipalities of Michoacán (see in map below)
  • 10 municipalities in Jalisco (see the second map below)

Recognized by the USDA, APEAM is the only cooperative association that is cleared to export avocados to the U.S.

Click here to download the Export Certification Work Plan

These municipalities are all located in Michoacán, Mexico.

A Brief History

In the mid-1990s, a group of avocado producers from Mexico 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 represents more than 34,000 small avocado growers and more than 84 packing houses in Mexico (including Michoacán and Jalisco).

While APEAM remains the only exporting partner of the USDA, in December 2021, Jalisco was integrated into the export program. The state follows the same guidelines to ensure the safe delivery of quality avocados to the U.S. Currently, there are more than 600 growers and 11 packing houses in Jalisco.

These municipalities are all located in Jalisco, Mexico.

Equity and Integrity Through Structure

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:

  1. President
  2. Vice president
  3. Secretary
  4. Treasurer
  5. Four representatives: two avocado growers and two packers
  6. Two members of the Honor and Justice Board

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.

The Guiding Hand of APEAM

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.
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The Fruits of an Economic Engine

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 Mexico, 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 restored more than 5,500 acres of Michoacán forests – that’s almost 3 million plants and pine trees – over the past ten years.

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.


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