Avocado Prices Will Soar In Costa Rica Due To Import Bans

As if a spewing volcano wasn't enough, Costa Rica is now expected to experience an avocado shortage after that country banned imports of the fruit from several major international suppliers, including the United States. Costa Rica has also halted imports from Mexico, the world's largest producer of avocados. Other countries that have been banned are Australia, Spain, Ghana, Guatemala, Israel, Mexico, South Africa, and Venezuela.

Costa Rica's State Phytosanitary Service of the Ministry of Agriculture banned imports because avocados worldwide have been afflicted with the Avocado Sunblotch Viroid, also called "sunblotch." Included in this affliction is the Haas avocado, which is the most popular avocado in the world, according to the Tico Times.

On May 12th, the country closed its doors to outside producers from select countries because the Costa Rican government doesn't want to take the chance that their small avocado crops will catch the infection. Even though avocados will grow in Costa Rica, there's only about 900 producers of the fruit in the country, and they harvest only 20 percent (14,000 tons) of avocados that are consumed by Costa Rican citizens. Each year, another 70,000 tons are imported, with Mexico supplying 80 percent of its avocado supply, according to Inside Costa Rica.

"We're very satisfied to see the Costa Rican government taking steps to protect domestic production," Carlos Gamboa, manager of APACO, an avocado growers cooperative in the Los Santos area south of San José, told the Tico Times. Because avocados have become a dietary staple over the past few decades, the Costa Rican government is scrambling to replace the country's avocado supply, albeit at a high cost.

It's expected that prices of avocados in Costa Rica will increase by as much as 25 percent, since there will be less supply, and importers will have to look for other sources, such as China, to supply the country's avocado appetites.

Francisco Dall'Anese, the Attorney General of Costa Rica, has reportedly been in contact with his peers in Mexico, trying to resume imports of avocados from Mexico safely, and is working on establishing protocols with the other countries effected by the ban.

Costa Rica has made international headlines lately as Turrialba Volcano erupted again, spewing ash and lava 8,000 feet in the air. The volcano, which caused airports to close due to black ash covering the runways, has plagued the country for the past month. There's been no information whether any avocado farms have been affected by the eruption.

[Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]