A super bowl of guacamole is one of the inevitable centerpieces on Super Bowl Sunday. The popular avocado dish is one of the star snacks of American football fans in the United States, where more than 100,000 tons are sold every year in the first five weeks of the year. That coincides with the time of the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl, which takes place on the first Sunday of February. For this year, producers in Mexico – a country that covers 80% of US consumption – sent a record 120,000 tons.
That is 20,000 tons more than in 2018 and implies that a truck loaded with avocado leaves every 8 minutes from Michoacán, the state of western Mexico producing this fruit, to meet the great American demand. “We realized that in the playoffs, in the NFL finals, ‘guacachips’ were consumed a lot,” Gabriel Villaseñor, president of the Association of Producers and Packers of Avocado Exporters of Mexico (APEAM), tells BBC News.
The plate of “guacachips” is the English expression of guacamole with chips or tortilla chips, as they are called in Mexico to the pieces of fried tortilla used to taste the avocado. Dominican Republic, Peru, Chile and the state of California (USA) are the other suppliers of the US market.
But of 1.15 million tons sold last year in the US, just over 900,000 were from Mexico, according to the country’s Hass Avocado Board.
Why did it become popular?
Its name comes from the conjunction of ahuacatl, the Nahuatl word for avocado, and “molli”, which means salsa. The ahuacamolli or guacamole, then, literally means avocado sauce.
In the United States it is one of the favorite snacks of Mexican food restaurants. Nielsen, one of the leading market and consumer research consultants in the US, attributes its popularity to the growth that has been registered in the country of “multicultural consumers.”
They are people who have a varied cultural origin, either because of their ancestors or because of the relationships they make in places where they live with other cultures, and that influence other consumers.
“In the United States, the influence of Latin culture, especially in music, dance and food, is very remarkable,” Nielsen explains in a 2015 report.
“We have seen significant growth in the purchase of consumer products such as tequila, tamales, avocados, guavas, green lemon, guacamole, carnitas, among others, and not precisely driven by Latinos, but by non-Hispanic consumers,” he adds.
The guacamole has benefited from this multicultural consumption dynamic, which Nielsen identifies as the “fastest growing economy” in the United States.
From the ban to the Super Bowl
Despite its popularity in recent years, until two decades ago American buyers did not have access to Mexican avocado. US government it maintained a ban on avocado imports from that country for 87 years, from 1914 to 1997, because it was considered to represent a risk to agriculture.
“In 1997 it was found that the state of Michoacán was free of the borer worm,” explains Gabriel Villaseñor of APEAM. That opened the doors of the US market gradually. By 2005, Mexican producers gained access to all 50 states, including California, which is the only domestic producer in the country.
The great success of the Mexican avocado and the taste for guacamole led APEAM to ally with the Association of Importers of American Mexican Hass Avocado and created the advertising identity Avocados From Mexico (“Avocados of Mexico”).