Mexico has acknowledged that the US government has suspended all imports of Mexican avocados after a US plant safety inspector in Mexico received a threat, the AP reports. The surprise, temporary suspension was confirmed late Saturday on the eve of the Super Bowl, the biggest sales opportunity of the year for Mexican avocado growers—though it would not affect game-day consumption since those avocados had already been shipped. Avocado exports are the latest victim of the drug cartel turf battles and extortion of avocado growers in the western state of Michoacan, the only state in Mexico fully authorized to export to the US market.
The US government suspended all imports of Mexican avocados “until further notice” after a US plant safety inspector in Mexico received a threatening message, Mexico’s Agriculture Department said in a statement. “US health authorities ... made the decision after one of their officials, who was carrying out inspections in Uruapan, Michoacan, received a threatening message on his official cellphone,” the department wrote. The import ban came on the day that the Mexican avocado growers and packers association unveiled its Super Bowl ad for this year. Mexican exporters have taken out the pricey ads for almost a decade in a bid to associate guacamole as a Super Bowl tradition.
This year's ad shows Julius Caesar and a rough bunch of gladiator fans outside what appears to be the Colosseum, soothing their apparently violent differences by enjoying guacamole and avocados. The association did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ban, which hits an industry with almost $3 billion in annual exports. However, avocados for this year's Super Bowl had already been exported in the weeks prior to the event. The US Embassy wrote that “facilitating the export of Mexican avocados to the US and guaranteeing the safety of our agricultural inspection personnel go hand in hand," and that it is "working with the Mexican government to guarantee security conditions that would allow our personnel in Michoacan to resume operations."
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