The “blood avocado” market, what lies behind their production

With the term “blood avocado” (blood avocados) refers to avocados that are produced within crops controlled by criminal groups. The global avocado market is growing rapidly: it has reached a value of 10 billion dollars and it is estimated that it will be worth almost 30 in less than 10 years. But alongside environmental and ethical problems, a less well-known but no less worrying one is emerging: that of safety and legality. In some cases, in fact, criminal groups “they tax” crops, that is, they carry out extortion against individual farmers or plantation owners; in others they take over the land on which these are cultivated by occupying them militarily. The cultivation of avocados, in fact, requires suitable soil and specific climatic conditions, and some cartels have tried to appropriate these resources for their own gain. One of the most relevant cases is that of the State of Michoacán, in Mexico.

The case of “blood avocados” in Mexico

The best known case of blood avocados is that of Mexico, where drug cartels have entered avocado production in an attempt to diversify their economic activities and penetrate the legal economy. More precisely in the State of Michoacánone of the main avocado producers in Mexico, the Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG) has been mentioned in some reports regarding his activities related to avocado cultivation in different parts of the State.

Also the British consultancy agency Maplecroft, in one of its reports, noted how the activity of the cartels in the state of Michoacán in the cultivation of avocados has produced various types of damage. The exponents of the CJNG have accomplished violence against farmersoccupied the land, even cleared pieces of forest to gain space for the cultivation of these fruits. Analysts at Maplecroft called avocados a case of “war goods” that is, as a particularly profitable raw material that can be produced in war contexts and then traded in legal markets. This is because the demand for the good is so high and the production method so poorly controlled that it is easy to find buyers. Examples of these goods are, for example, diamonds or oil.


How to make the avocado supply chain sustainable

To solve the blood avocado problem, Mexican authorities, together with international organizations and industry groups, are working to address the issues related to safety and legality in avocado production. The creation of certification programs and the implementation of control measures on plantations and farmers are just some of the initiatives taken to ensure legality and sustainability in the avocado industry in Mexico.

Some avocado-producing regions have been the subject of debate regarding working conditions and workers’ rights on plantations and this has led to greater consumer attention on the ethical sourcing of avocados and the social responsibility of companies involved in the supply chain. Finally, several industry players are working to develop more stringent regulations and certifications that promote sustainability and respect for human rights. Groups like the Rainforest Alliance Certified And Fair Trade in fact they are fighting to encourage a responsible approach to the avocado trade.