MEXICO CITY -- Super Bowl Sunday can mean food and fun as much as football--and the food part often means guacamole. Super Bowl fans in 2010 wolfed down more than 50 million pounds of avocados used to make the creamy sauce. Over the past 15 years, the Super Bowl staple has been made increasingly with avocados imported from Mexico--specifically, the western state of Michoacan. "Super Bowl is always when more guacamole is consumed, more than any other day," says Ricardo Vega Lopez, president of the Avocado Producers and Export Packers of Michoacan.
The first of Mexico's prime picking seasons comes in January, just prior to the big game. But meeting the Super Bowl demand is only part of the Mexican avocado industry's success. Mexico's growers and packers have exported ever more boxes of the iconic fruit--which is native to Mexico--feeding a seemingly insatiable appetite in the United States and beyond. Avocado exports totaled $528.7 million over the first half of 2010, according to ProMexico, the Mexican government agency that tracks trade data. Exports reached 410,000 tons during the 2010-2011 season, or one-third of the total harvest.
The industry itself has invested in marketing campaigns and successfully positioned avocados as commonly consumed fruit in the United States--not just something for Latinos. "Consumption fortunately hasn't just come in the Latino segment of the market but in other ethnic markets," Vega says.
Consumers were much less effusive about avocados in past decades, however. Just getting avocados into the United States--the main export destination for Mexican avocados--was a challenge, too, as...