Avocado: Love hurts

We love our avocados indiscriminately; small, round, oval – in all shapes, sizes and colours.

We love them for breakfast, for lunch, after lunch, in a salad, smashed over toast, or just with a spoon – sometimes without even removing all the skin. It’s a 50 shades of green kind of love. And the worst thing is, it’s contagious.

Despite only gaining popularity in recent years, Europeans are consuming a whopping 4,000 tonnes of avocado per annum, with a demand increasing at 16% each year. China’s imports are increasing at 250%. Australian production of the fruit is forecast to increase to 100,000 tonnes in the following years, just to keep up with demand. While demand in New Zealand has ignited a crime spree and delivered an avocado black market.

John Colmey from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) spoke about the global impact of this infatuation during his presentation, ‘Tracing the life of an avocado from Amsterdam to Mexico’, at the Global Landscape Forum held in Bonn, Germany.

This is yet another example of how global food trends are changing the global food supply chain, with devastating results for our planet. Avocado production has a huge carbon footprint.

Mexico produces up to 50% of the world’s exports, and the market is valued at 2.5 billion.

“More than oil in terms of value in currency reserves”, said Colmey.

In Michacoa, were most of Mexico’s avocados are produced, prices doubled from the year before. In order for the region to produce enough to meet demand, 80 square kms was deforested.

Avocado production consumes twice the amount of water than the forest it replaced, which is a significant strain on the local community, and such drastic changes negatively impacts the bioversity of Mexico in general.

Colmey suggests that the solution lies in working with the local community to reach a sustainable global and local solution.

“We have to connect the consumer with the producer”, said Colmey, and he is positive that we have the ability to make the changes needed.

“We can change, we can turn this around, we’ve got the knowledge. We can turn this movement into something that can change the world.”

This doesn’t mean we need to quit our avo just yet. But maybe our love needs to be a little more educated, a little more patient, and a little more environmentally kind.

Blogpost by Marianne McDade – #GLFBonn2017 Social Reporter – m.mcdade(at)cgiar.org
Picture courtesy Gary Sauer-Thompson (on Flickr)

This post is part of the live coverage during the GLF Bonn 2017 Global event. This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.