URUAPAN, Mexico — The baby avocados in Enrique Bautista’s vast orchard in western Mexico will grow to maturity, eventually, and be shipped out of Mexico.
What remains to be seen is how many of those green gems will reach consumers in the United States if President Donald Trump makes good on his promise to slap duties on Mexican exports should the country fail to stem the tide of immigrants trying to reach the U.S.
The potential Trump tariffs would hit U.S. avocado lovers more than Mexican producers, Bautista said. Demand north of the border for Mexican avocados has proven very static: even when prices expand four-fold during the year, the fruit is still scooped up by U.S. devotees of avocado toast and guacamole.
Producers in Mexico believe a 5% — or even 25% — U.S. tariff on avocados will do little to dampen their sales.
“I think the bigger risk is for U.S. consumers” having to pay higher prices, said Bautista, 69, a second-generation avocado grower whose father was an early exporter of the fruit that has become a staple in the diets of millions of Americans.
The popularity of avocados has won the spreadable fruit the nickname “green gold” in Mexico, the world’s top producer.
The U.S. is the top export market for Mexican avocados, according to USDA data, consuming more than 74% of total exports. Japan absorbs at least 6% and Canada another 7% of the Mexican crop.
“Fortunately, the avocado is a fruit that’s in demand more every day around the world, that’s consumed in many other countries,” said Bautista, who gave The Associated Press a tour of his orchard in Uruapan in Michoacan state on Saturday. His avocados are shipped entirely to the U.S.