Avocado prices skyrocket, drives up costs for restaurants

Shortage contributes to price hike

By Justin Horne - Weather Authority Meteorologist/Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Avocados from Mexico have long been a staple in South Texas and San Antonio cuisine. Recently, however, restaurants have been forced to change their ways as the price of avocados has skyrocketed.

"It’s supply and demand, the truest form of it,” explained Nando Gonzales, who runs River City Produce, a fruit and vegetable wholesaler.

Fruits and vegetables can be a turbulent commodity, as the lime shortage of 2014 proved. This year, an avocado shortage is driving up prices.

"There's plenty of fruit, they're (farmers) just holding it,” Gonzales said.

Farmers from Mexico, after a recent dispute with packers and distributors, have allegedly gone so far as to block roads to prevent delivery of the fruit.

"They were striking, because they felt like the market needed to be higher,” Gonzales said.

As a result, the prices of avocados, especially the larger version of the fruit, have exploded in price.

"I haven’t seen them this expensive in years,” Gonzales said.

Boxes of avocados, as of Wednesday, at River City Produce, were running $70 to $75. Typically, a box would cost about $25.  

"So they've tripled, quadrupled in some markets, depending on what you can get,” Gonzales said.

The price hike will likely be an issue for area restaurants. 

"The last case we got today was $85 a case,” said Robert Rodriguez, manager at Pete’s Tako House.

Rodriguez said it was the highest price they have paid for avocados in a long time. However, the restaurant did not plan to pass along the cost to the consumer. 

"We're going to see if we could try to ride it out as long as we can, so that we don't have to affect the prices on our food as of right now,” Rodriguez said.

Other restaurants may be forced to cut back on avocados or charge more in the coming weeks. 

There is word that the strike in Mexico may be over. However, Gonzales believes it may take three to four weeks before prices start to drop again. 

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