Why Adding Avocado Costs So Much Extra In Restaurants

"Guacamole is extra, is that okay?" It's a common question at burrito joints, and the fact that adding avocado to just about anything comes with a surcharge has become a restaurant standard. Even though most of us already know avocado will cost more, it can be hard to shake the idea that restaurants might be pulling a fast one with this significant avocado upcharge. After all, avocados don't seem to be any more rare than tomatoes, cheese, or black beans... so what gives? Two words: supply and demand.

The avocado has never been more popular and it's likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future. "Guacamole is almost nature's version of butter," Leo Kremer, co-owner of the Dos Toros chain, told NBC in July 2018. "I think it's only going to become more and more popular."  

The avocados needed to meet the demand aren't always the same price for restaurants and can fluctuate greatly depending on the harvest. Most of the Hass variety of avocados that you'll find in restaurants and at the supermarket are grown in California and Mexico. Avocados are a very demanding crop when it comes to water and require around 50 gallons of H2O per pound of fruit (via Reader's Digest). If California or Mexico are experiencing bad weather, it can dramatically affect the crop and raise prices. A restaurant might pay $40 for a case of avocados one week and the next week that same case might be $90. 

It doesn't take long for an avocado to spoil, either, and that's money out of a restaurant owner's pocket when they inevitably do. Even if an avocado doesn't spoil before it's used, the air can cause an oxidizing effect on the flesh that results in a rather unappetizing brownish color that won't likely be served. This can be costly for businesses that might place avocado slices on prepackaged items or make guacamole ahead of time. "For restaurants and others that produce guac at a mass scale, you may be throwing out literal tons of guacamole," Michael Alexis of the The Great Guac Off competition, told Reader's Digest

When one takes into consideration the price of a single avocado, the likelihood of losing some to spoilage, labor costs of staff, restaurant rent and utilities, and other small business incidentals, restaurants don't make all that much off a $10 avocado toast order, unbelievable as that may seem (via Eater). The question is: Just how much are you willing to pay to satisfy that guac craving?