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Avocados from Mexico: A Story of Organized Crime - Eyara Jokar

A couple days ago, the 54th annual Super Bowl happened, the biggest night of the year for advertising. One of the particular stars of the show was the Avocados from Mexico ad, featuring Molly Ringwald. The ad itself was cute, clever, and widely appreciated, but it’s problematic roots go much deeper.

Avocados from Mexico, a brand that’s been around since the 90s, sources its unique year-round supply of avocados from Michoacán, Mexico, a state that’s in a position of unrest due to the booming avocado industry and the advertising campaigns that have fueled it. In the 90s, avocados were largely unpopular, difficult to sell, and the Avocado Growers Exchange of California was struggling. Advertisers began to sell the avocado as “nutrient rich”, and described it as a “superfood”. They anglicized avocados, by offering ways to incorporate them into traditional American dishes. A Super Bowl recipe contest was launched, and this propelled the avocado industry into a multi-billion-dollar market, and created a huge global demand.

The state that the year round imported avocados are sourced from, began to see a huge boom in organized crime where cartel leaders would kidnap avocado farmers and extort them for millions of pesos in exchange for their lives and the lives of their family members. Eventually, they began stealing plots of land from avocado farmers as they saw a way to continue raking in millions of dollars in profit.

Today, the state of Michoacán is plagued by corruption, fraud, and organized crime, because of the advertising campaign and the massive demand it created for Mexican avocados.

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