At the 2017 International Food Blogging Conference in Sacramento, one of the sponsors was Avocados from Chile1, the avocado promotion agency from that nation. The logic behind their promotional efforts in California is sound:
- United States avocado growers can’t meet growing U.S. demand
- The California avocado harvest is typically between April and September
- Chile is in the southern hemisphere, so the harvest is shifted by six months and runs from September to March2
Which Country Grows the Most Avocados?
Avocados from Chile’s presence at the conference got me thinking: Who grows avocados? Where does Chile fit in? Is production from Chile on the upswing?
Below you’ll find an interactive “story” about world avocado production and avocado demand in the U.S. Click the grey squares at the top to move between three charts. After the charts, I’ll provide some comments. (For a bigger and/or possibly more properly sized charts, check out the autosized version of my avocado story at Tableau Public.)
- The first chart shows that Mexico is the current avocado giant, with almost 30% of global production. The second ranked country (the Dominican Republic) produces less than 9% of the global total.
- The second chart show Mexico’s dominance and a blur of lines for everyone else. In the last 10 years, Mexico has increased production by more than 50%. In the last 30 years production has more than tripled. In the last 50 years, the increase is more than 11 times. U.S. production, in contrast, has increased by only 5.3 times over the last 50 years.
- Also in the second chart, Chile had a burst of growth between 1997 and 2007, roughly quadrupling their output, but production has been level since then. Production is about 1/10th that of Mexico and roughly equivalent to U.S. production.
- The final chart shows approximate U.S. avocado demand in the U.S., which has skyrocketed since 2000, from about 2 pounds per person (0.9 kg) to over 6 pounds per person (2.7 kg). U.S. eaters are lightweights, though, compared to Mexico’s 16.2 pounds per person (7.4 kg), Israel’s 16.7 pounds per person (7.6 kg), and Costa Rica’s 17.8 pounds per person (8.1 kg) 4.
Photo of avocado toast from T.Tseng’s Flickr collection, subject to a Creative Commons License. Photo of avocado toast from Lauren Friedman’s Flickr collection, subject to a Creative Commons License
- Avocados from Chile’s Twitter and Pinterest user ID are “avocados.” There might be a great story behind how they got the valuable “avocados” handles on those social media platforms.
- For more about avocado seasons, check out this avocado season explainer from Bon Appetit
- I have used FAOSTAT previously to look at millet statistics and potato statistics
- Source: a presentation from the New Zealand Avocado Growers’ Association