Mexico taco stalls serving fake guacamole due to US demand and cartel control of market

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Rising avocado prices in Mexico caused by poor harvests and cartel control have reportedly prompted taco chefs to substitute them for courgettes in guacamole, the staple dip on the table of nearly every restaurant in Mexico. 

Avocado prices in Mexico have soared in recent months due to a poor crop, forcing enterprising chefs to swap them for cheap and plentiful courgettes in the dip – and successfully fooling customers in the process.  

Rising demand for the fruit in the US, caused by the craze for brunch dishes such as avocado on toast, as well as a weak crop in California, is increasing demand and forcing prices up in Mexico. 

Last week, the price of Hass avocados from the violent southern state of Michoacán, the heartland of Mexico’s production, jumped some 7 per cent to a record-breaking 650 pesos (£27) for 10 kilograms, according to government data reported by Bloomberg. 

In Michoacán, drug cartels command parts of the valuable avocado business, and have reportedly infiltrated the industry and run extortion rackets, preying on producers in the state.

Avocados are in short supply and high demand

Avocados are in short supply and high demand Credit: AP Photo/Nick Wagner, File

Tacos are staples of Mexico City palates. Thousands, if not millions of residents eat them every day from the thousands of street stalls and restaurants that dot nearly every corner of the capital. 

So good is the substitute, according to some connoisseurs, that punters could be eating it without even noticing. 

Once the courgettes are boiled up and blended with the rest of the ingredients – green tomato, coriander and chili peppers – and pureed into a creamy, smooth consistency, some culinary experts claim few could tell the difference.

“The scariest part is that it tastes almost exactly like your standard taqueria guacamole: bright, spicy, rich, and very satisfying,” said Javier Cabral, editor of LATaco, a food and culture site and producer of Netflix series, Taco Chronicles. 

Cabral, who says he has eaten over a thousand tacos this year alone, said: “It almost fooled me.” The story was originally reported in the Mexico City magazine Chilango, equivalent to the UK’s TimeOut, earlier this month.

In an editorial, the magazine said: “The advantages are the price (we don’t have to tell you that courgettes are way cheaper than avocados, right?) and that the sauce stays greener for longer. Guacamole made with avocados – as it should be – goes black when it is exposed to the air, although that can be avoided with a little lime juice.”