Guacamole & The Global Economy

The last time you went to Chipotle, Del Taco, or your local grocer of choice, did you notice the overnight uptick in the price of avocados and guacamole? At this point, I’m not sure I could even exist without the delicious nectar. There aren’t too many days that I go without guacamole in either a salad, burrito, rice bowl, or recently adding into my esteemed humus recipe to produce a guacahumus with a flavor that I had previously only thought possible in heaven or dreams. So yes, I did notice the uptick in price and immediate decline in avocado saturation at my local Harris Teeter.

And sure enough, one of the trending articles on last week was in regards to this delicious emergency. It seems a number of recent global factors have caused there to be a decline in avocado production while demand continues to magnify around the world. It seems the Europeans and Chinese have finally uncovered the guacasecret that us Americans have been trying to hide for decades. Then compound that increased demand by a lag in production due to the California drought over the last couple years and a very recent strike by avocado growers in Mexico, and the increase in prices begin to make sense.

This story is such a delectable proxy to demonstrate how globally interwoven all of our lives have become. There is not much that we consume on a daily or weekly basis that has not, in some way been affected by the regions outside our physical borders. Everyday there are more examples. Think about how oil production in OPEC nations impacts gas prices at your local QT or BP. Think about how increased wages in China has forced Nike to move production south into cheaper Vietnam and Cambodia. Think about how apparel companies such as Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger have opened new factories in central Africa in order to maintain their reasonable retail prices. The old woman in front of you in line at Chipotle complaining about the additional $0.50 for the guacamole in her barbacoa bowl almost certainly does not know or care about the macroeconomic circumstances allowing her to enjoy her favorite lunch at a palatable price. She only looks forward to writing a poor review on Yelp and continuing on with her day. But we more globally conscious consumers should have at least a mild understanding of the purchasing power variables that contribute to so many facets of our livelihood.

Supply and demand, price elasticity, and many other fundamental economic principles portrayed so suddenly into our favorite local lunch spots, this avocado shortage reminds us to be conscious of and thankful for the complex global economy that allows us to add guacamole sourced in Mexico and shipped from California into the $8 kimchi beef tacos at Taco Boy in Charleston, SC .

PS. Acknowledgement to @RichardsonDave for this week’s blog idea




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