USDA considers allowing avocado imports from second Mexican state
U.S. consumer awareness of Mexican avocados was given a strong boost earlier this month with a minute-long commercial during the Superbowl featuring former NFL players, and now it looks like availability also could be getting a step-up as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed to allow imports from another major production state.
If the proposal is approved, the Mexican state of Jalisco would join neighboring Michoacan in exporting its Hass avocados to the U.S.
At present, only commercial consignments of Hass avocados from Michoacan are authorized for entry into the continental U.S., Hawaii and Puerto Rico, under a systems approach to mitigate against quarantine pests of concerns.
The USDA said it is now proposing to allow fresh Hass exports from Jalisco into those areas, provided the state met requirements set out in the regulations and the operational work plan.
It added all Mexican states could later be allowed access under the proposal, but it would initially only apply to Jalisco.
Michoacan is Mexico's largest avocado-producing state with around 193,000 metric tons (MT) grown annually, while Jalisco is the second-largest with 87,000MT, according to figures from the country's Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Food (SAGARPA).
In total Mexico produces around 467,000MT annually from 27 states.
"Insect-proof containers would be required to be used in shipping and the removal of mandatory fruit cutting at land and maritime borders, the current systems approach would not change," the USDA said.
"That systems approach, which includes requirements for orchard certification, limited production area, trace back labeling, pre-harvest orchard surveys, orchard sanitation, post-harvest safeguards, fruit cutting and inspection at the packinghouse, port-of-arrival inspection, and clearance activities, would then be required for importation of fresh Hass avocado fruit from all approved areas of Mexico."
The fruit would also be required to be imported in commercial consignments and accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the national plant protection organization of Mexico, with an additional declaration stating that the consignment was produced in accordance with the systems approach described in the operational workplan.
"This action would allow for the importation of fresh Hass avocado fruit from Mexico while continuing to provide protection against the introduction of plant pests into the continental United States, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico," the USDA said.
The USDA said it would consider all comments made on the proposal that it received on or before April 20.
If you would like to view the full proposal or make a comment, click here.
Photo: Patrick Gruban, via Flickr Creative Commons