Kenya Is Banning Avocado Exports For The Next 3 Months

If you are going into business selling fruit and produce, you'd be smart to follow Kenya's lead and get into the avocado game. The market for the fruit is expanding every year, with Grand View Research reporting that the global avocado market hit record highs last year at a total value of over $14 billion. After spending centuries confined to popularity in Central and South America, the savory fruit has exploded in popularity in the U.S. In fact, Business Wire notes that sales have tripled since 2000, while the government opened more avocado imports from Mexico to keep up with demand. All those bad jokes about avocado toast didn't come out of nowhere.

World avocado production is dominated by Mexico and Latin America, but Kenya has become a larger player in the market in the last decade. Yahoo says that Kenya shares California and Mexico's ideal climate for growing both Hass and Fuerte avocados as valuable crops. Kenyan farmers have taken advantage of demand as an avocado exporter to the United States, and climbed up the ranks to become the sixth largest exporter worldwide, according to Statista. So, it would seem strange that in spite of all that success the Kenyan government is pumping the brakes on exports — at least for now.

Excessive harvests could damage Kenya's avocado crop

It looks like Kenya's avocado growers have become a victim of their own success. reports that the Kenyan government is worried about farmers picking unripe avocados too early to take advantage of high global prices. They have instituted a three month ban on exporting the healthy superfood to make sure the crop can ripen and ensure that over-harvesting does not damage avocado production in the long run. This comes on the heels of a similar ban in 2021 that was only just lifted in March of this year, which Business Daily Africa says the Kenyan government was trying to avoid a repeat of 2018 when harvesting of under-ripe avocados damaged the price.

The Kenyan government seems right to protect against the exploitation of the avocado crop. The BBC reports that avocados have become so valuable in Kenya that armed men guard farms against poachers stealing the crop on behalf of cartels. It turns out, the world loves guacamole so much that the sales from just one tree's worth of avocados can pay for an entire year of school in Kenya, reports BBC. That's a jarring example of just how important the global food trade is to people's livelihoods, and a good reminder to be thankful for the farmers who work hard to make sure we have fresh avocados waiting in abundance at U.S. grocery stores.