Guacamole blues: Mexicans dismayed by avocado price climb

MEXICO CITY — Mexicans are dismayed by continued increases in the price for avocados, a staple of the country's cuisine.

And the situation has also led to outrage too, as recipes have begun popping up for so-called "mock guacamole" without avocados.

"This really does hurt," the Mexico City food and entertainment magazine Chilango said in a story this week about the "fake guacamole" recipes circulating on social media.

In truth, similar recipes have been circulating for years — a blended emulsion of tomatillo, zucchini, oil and chile — but they have gained greater visibility with the rise of avocado prices.

Bonifacio de Luna runs a Mexico City stall selling tacos and burritos and says he buys 5 kilograms of avocados per day at over 100 pesos ($5) per kilogram.

"It's very expensive, the price is very high," De Luna said, expressing nostalgia for a time years ago when he paid a fifth as much.

But he proudly showed off a big bowl of real guacamole — albeit heavy on the onions — and rejected the idea of selling mock guacamole as "very, very bad," adding "It's not natural."

"I have to offer this product, because if I didn't have guacamole, people wouldn't come here to eat," said De Luna, whose hefty burritos sell for 30 pesos (a little over $2).

Eating mixed-meat "campechano" tacos at a different stand nearby — one that also offered real guac — service-center telephone operator Sergio Corona agreed.

"This is a central element of Mexican cooking," said Corona. "A good taco should never lack good guacamole."

But Corona said that, at home, his family has reduced the amount of avocados it buys due to the prices.

"We still buy avocados, just not as much as we would like," Corona said.

The government says increased demand in the United States and a slight drop in production are to blame.

The price in the United States hit $2.23 per pound this week. In late June, the most expensive stores in Mexico had about the same prices, though the average cost per kilogram in Mexico is just under $2.

"Prices for Hass avocados have been rising for several weeks because of a drop in production of 1.2% ... added to the priority given to exports, which were 7.6% higher between January and May than they were last year," the government consumer protection agency said in a report.