November 2, 2019 – To many in Michoacán, Mexico it was a day like any other, but for those working in the avocado industry it was monumental. The cause for excitement was owed to the U.S. ambassador, Christopher Landau, and his family who journeyed November 2, 2019 to one of Michoacán’s 30,000 avocado orchards.
Not only was this the first time Landau — who was sworn in as the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico in August 2019 — has visited the avocado groves in Michoacán, but the outing marked the first occasion any U.S. ambassador has toured the area west of Mexico City that some refer to as Avocadoland.
Landau and his family had the opportunity to observe and celebrate the everyday qualities and features of Michoacán that have made it the avocado capital of Mexico and the largest source of the fruit for American consumers. The ambassador’s visit emphasized the importance of the ongoing support for the Mexican avocado-export initiatives.
Michoacán, Mexico: A Region Like No Other
It’s no coincidence that there are more than 30,000 avocado orchards in Michoacán. The area is blessed with rich volcanic soil, the perfect mixture of sunlight and rainfall, and land ripe for cultivation at a range of altitudes. This unique combination of geographical features in Michoacán creates a distinct habitat that allows high-quality avocados to be grown year-round.
Besides witnessing the beautiful and exceptionally productive terrain of Michoacán firsthand, Ambassador Landau also received a personal lesson on the type of infrastructure and skills needed to translate agricultural potential into robust avocado production. In the orchard, the ambassador and his family were shown how to pick avocados using a long pole and basket that makes plucking the fruit from high branches efficient.
The Landaus didn’t have to wait long to enjoy the rewards of their labor. After a little instruction, they learned to use a traditional granite molcajete to mash the avocados they picked themselves, producing handmade guacamole, avocado toast, and even a blended avocado drink — all with fresh, ripe fruit right off the tree.
The Significance of Avocado Exports
While the ambassador and his family enjoyed a memorable time in Mexico’s leading avocado region, they aren’t the only ones who have benefited from the special relationship between the U.S. and Mexico in the past years and the avocados it has produced. In a Twitter post from the day of his visit, Landau praised the operations of the avocado industry in Michoacán, calling it “a great example of the benefits of free trade.”
In 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a final rule allowing for the export of Mexican avocados to the U.S. from all of Mexico, not just Michoacán. The decision was made after a pest-risk analysis, which concluded that avocado imports from other Mexican states would not jeopardize the health of American flora, fauna, and consumers. These cooperative efforts have facilitated a steady and reliable supply of high-quality Mexican avocados to the U.S. in previous years.
The upside for American consumers eager for avocados is obvious. But the collaboration has also yielded significant economic benefits, including 75,000 direct and permanent jobs in Mexico. Many of these jobs are in Michoacán itself, a state that was once the largest source of illegal migrant workers to the U.S.
A recent study by Texas A&M highlighted the tangible benefits that Mexican avocado imports have made on the U.S. economy. In 2017 alone, the import of avocados from Mexico contributed $3.4 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), $932 million in taxes, and helped create more than 29,000 well-paying jobs. The impact was largest in California and Texas, where avocado imports added $514 million and $294.6 million to the GDP, respectively.
All of which is to say that Ambassador Landau and his family had many good reasons to celebrate and promote ongoing support for avocado exports to the U.S. from both Michoacán and from across Mexico. An inside look into the production chain of Mexican avocados — and a taste of their very own fresh guacamole — undoubtedly made the visit an unforgettable one for the Landaus.
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