Perceived and Actual Environmental Impacts of the U.S.-Mexico Avocado Trade
The growing appetite of the U.S. market made matching its demand for avocados with its domestic supply impossible and about 78% of avocados sold in the United States in 2018 are imported from Mexico. The U.S.-Mexico avocado trade is rapidly growing as a result, but the concern over its environmental impact is getting more attention as well. In this study, we explored the avocado supply chain’s environmental impacts perceived by the key actors and actual impacts on the ground. To do so, we first reconstructed the actor-based U.S.-Mexico avocado supply chains based on TRAcking Corporate Actors across Space and Time (TRACAST) framework that uses and combines heterogeneous data. From the reconstructed supply chain, we identified key actors who have ability to address the avocado industry's environmental problem. Then, we interviewed the key actors to see what their perception about the U.S.-Mexico avocado industry's environmental impacts is. Finally, we used remote sensing to capture the land-use change associated with Mexican avocado production to compare with the key players’ perception. We found dissonance between the avocado supply chain’s environmental impacts perceived by the key actors and actual impacts on the ground. Finally, we suggested several recommendations for more sustainable and responsible U.S.-Mexico avocado supply chains.
Kimin Cho, MS (EJ, EPP)