Why Farmers Might Count On Australia During The Next Avocado Shortage

The United States is one of the largest producers of avocados worldwide. In 2020, the U.S. alone produced 206,610 tons of avocados, per Agricultural Marketing Resource Center. Holy moly, that's a lot of guacamole. It's hard to imagine that there was a time when the average American didn't know what to do with the scaly, egg-shaped fruits. For nearly a century, sales were so poor that the U.S. government had to forbid imports of the little green guys just to keep U.S. growers afloat (via USAID). After the health craze of the '80s failed to improve the fruit's popularity, California growers even launched the avocado mascot you probably forgot existed to try to turn the tide of public favor (via The Atlantic).

Now the tides have turned and we've all learned the best recipes to make with avocado. Needless to say, an avocado shortage like the one we saw when the imports border between the U.S. and Mexico closed in February, could be a problem for many Americans (via Bloomberg). Fortunately for guacamole fans, Australia is stepping up to fill any future avocado gaps.

Aussie avocados

While Australia might seem physically and culturally different from most major avocado producers and consumers — the top 3 consumers are the U.S., Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, and the top 3 producers are Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Peru, according to Index Box. Surprisingly, most of the world's top avocado-producing nations, not including the U.S., are in Central or South America. But if you consider the climate, the hot dry heat of Australia is similar to that of California, where the vast majority of U.S. avocados are grown (via Statista).

While not one of the top global producers so far, Australia is determined to move up the ladder. In 2022, Australia expects to produce 124,000 tons of avocados, more than 30,000 tons more than 2021, ABC reports. That works out to a surreal 22 avocados per Australian. In contrast to the recent U.S. shortage, Australia is finding itself with more avocados than they know what to do with. Poached eggs and avocado toast, anyone? 

Massive increases in the acreage of trees planted between 2017 and 2019 mean that the Australian avocado boom will only continue to grow as those trees mature. Australian growers are looking abroad to take these green gems off their hands. And it's working — Australian exports of the fruit are up 350% (via Rabobank). However, it's still not enough and growers are worried about the seasons ahead as more young trees mature and produce. The chairman of Avocados Australia even has a plea for all Australians: "Just pick up one more ... just have a go" (via ABC). Maybe the U.S. could give them a hand, or a bag of tortilla chips.