The U.S. government suspended all imports of Mexican avocados Saturday after a U.S. plant safety inspector working in Mexico received a threatening message.
Mexican officials confirmed the report just one day ahead of the Super Bowl, which is one of the largest sales opportunities for Mexican avocado growers.
Avocado exporters have become the target of drug cartels, especially among growers in the Mexican state of Michoacan. Imports of Mexican avocados have been suspended “until further notice,” the Mexican Agriculture Department said in a statement.
“U.S. 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 Agriculture Department said.
The suspension has definitely cost the Mexican avocado growers and packers associations, who purchased expensive advertising slots during the Super Bowl. The avocado industry provides Mexico with an average of $3 billion in annual exports.
U.S. plant inspectors work in Mexico to ensure imported avocados are healthy and don’t carry diseases that could impact U.S crops. In 1997 the U.S. lifted a ban on Mexican avocados that had been in place since 1914.