USDA is again inspecting Mexican avocados, allowing the resumption of exports to the U.S., which cannot come close to meeting consumer demand with domestic production.

The U.S. cancelled inspections on Feb. 11 after an Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service inspector in the state of Michoacán reported that he had been verbally threatened.

The USDA said Friday that it worked with Mexican government and industry officials to put in place “additional measures that enhance safety for APHIS’ inspectors working in the field.”

“The safety of USDA employees simply doing their jobs is of paramount importance,” USDA said in a statement. “USDA is appreciative of the positive, collaborative relationship between the United States and Mexico that made resolution of this issue possible in a timely manner.”  

For now, Michoacán is the only Mexican state exporting avocados to the U.S., and those shipments make up about 80% of U.S. consumption, according to Rabo AgriFinance analyst David Magaña.

Last year, $2.8 billion of the $3 billion worth of imported avocados came from Michoacán. The U.S. also imports some of the fruit from Peru and Chile, but it would have been unlikely that exporters there could make up for the loss of Mexican supplies, said Magaña.

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The USDA in December approved the importation of avocados from the Mexican state of Jalisco, but that trade isn’t expected to begin until May or June.

“We are grateful that both countries have come to a resolution so that the U.S. and Mexico can continue our positive trading relationship,” said International Fresh Produce Association Chief Public Policy Officer Robert Guenther. “IFPA looks forward to continuing to work with businesses on both sides of the border and their respective governments to continue to monitor and address these issues, so consumers can continue to enjoy uninterrupted access to fresh produce.”

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