Holy guacamole! This rich and creamy dip is a staple appetizer in all Mexican restaurants. It also tastes good on virtually any dish they serve. However, even when offered as a topping, this signature item comes with an extra charge. Why is guacamole so expensive? The avocados are to blame!
90% of avocados come to the United States from other countries. The import costs combined with the high amount of water needed to grow this vibrant fruit leads to a big price increase. Moreover, this superfood can spoil quickly.
They say that time is money and in the restaurant business this is extremely true. Appetizers like guacamole come with an expensive price tag because a good amount of the product can go to waste due to oxidation.
Top Five Price Factors For Guacamole
1. High Demand For The Main Ingredient
From avocado toast to eggs, and of course, the staple Mexican dip, the popularity of avocados has skyrocketed over the past 35 years. “In 1985, domestic consumption was a meager 436 million pounds.
That number has increased six-fold to over 2.6 billion pounds of the berry being consumed by Americans in 2020.” The hype around the healthiness of Hass avocados has made for an expensive price tag with this trendy fruit.
Prior to the 1990s, avocados were a strange item that most people passed over at the supermarket. However, with the implementation of effective advertising, sales started to skyrocket right before the new millennium.
Surprisingly, it was as simple as dressing up a man in an avocado costume and having a narrator state “Hello, I’m Mr. Ripe Guy”. The rest is history.
Avocados Are Now Used In More Dishes
The years where avocados were only used in guacamole are a thing of the past. Now you can find this fruit on sandwiches, in sushi rolls, and even as a part of brownie recipes! Due to the astonishing health benefits, it has also been turned into cooking oil. Additionally, it serves as the centerpiece for many culinary dishes.
The high demand for this savory fruit has led the cost of guacamole to become much more expensive. As we all know, when there is a high demand for a product, the cost goes up. As of 2019, the average price of a single Hass avocado was at $2.10.
When you consider that it takes a handful of these alligator pears to make guacamole, it becomes quite understandable why the cost is so expensive. If you make it at home or buy it pre-made, guacamole averages anywhere from 20 to 40 cents an ounce.
However, at a restaurant, you can spend anywhere from $8 to $25 for this signature dish. This price is also dependent on if they make it fresh at the table or back in the kitchen.
2. Import Costs
The United States takes the title for the biggest consumer of avocados in the world. “In 2020, around 188 thousand tons of avocados were grown and harvested in the Golden State”.
However, even with this impressive production, “imports of avocados reached a record 2.1 billion pounds” that same year. In fact, 80% of this fruit comes from other locations across the globe.
This means that avocado prices are highly dependent on the seller. With the high demand, these numbers have gone up. As of 2018, the cost per pound is at $3.37.
When you consider that an average Hass avocado weighs about a third of a pound, the wholesale price is steep. Moreover, one-third of an avocado is inedible. Yet you still have to pay for this part that ends up in the trash.
3. Growing Conditions
The roots of avocado plants stay close to the surface. This means that they can dry out easily. Therefore, they require an excessive amount of water to compensate for this characteristic. California avocado growers note that “the rule of thumb for mature trees is about 20 gallons of water a day during the irrigation season.”
Otherwise, they are watered two to three times weekly. Additionally, it takes between a year to a year and a half for avocados to grow. Suddenly the water bill becomes exceptionally high. Additionally, drought years can lead to the need for extra water to compensate for the losses. Unfortunately, the consumers take on this cost.
4. High Oxidation Rate
In contrast to other fruits and vegetables, avocados oxidize at an alarming rate. This is when the beautiful green flesh turns brown with the introduction of oxygen. Sometimes it only takes a few hours for this color change to occur, making this delectable fruit much less desirable.
For the restaurants that make their guacamole in-house, this short time frame can lead to waste. Customers associate brown-colored fruits and vegetables with a rotten product. While in most cases this is true, it only takes four hours for an avocado to change colors. Therefore, it is likely that the alteration in appearance happened that same day.
Nevertheless, most restaurants will throw them out in order to avoid dissatisfied customers. This makes your scoop of guacamole at Chipotle or Qdoba much more expensive.
5. Health Benefits
Everyone knows that green fruits and vegetables are packed with essential nutrients, but avocados are a step above the rest. Packed with antioxidants, B vitamins, folate and more potassium than a banana, this is one of American’s favorite superfoods.
In fact, according to doctors at Cedars-Sinai, “monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, found in avocados, are often called the ‘good fats.’ Avocado consumption has been linked to lower levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol.” They also note that one avocado has approximately a third of your daily recommended fiber.
“High fiber diets have been lauded for lowering blood sugar, cutting cholesterol, and potentially preventing some kinds of cancer—like colon cancer.” Furthermore, the regular consumption of avocados can aid in effective weight loss.
This is because the specific combination of fats and fiber help individuals stay fuller for longer. For those who are looking to lose a few pounds, this can help to fight the urge to snack. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that growers are charging more for this spectacular superfood.
Help Your Guacamole Last Longer
If your intent is to purchase your avocados on Monday and then use them on Saturday for a poolside treat, put those alligator pears in the refrigerator! The cold and darkness will slow the ripening process. This will allow this expensive fruit to last longer and your guacamole to turn out as you intended.
Moreover, keep them away from other fruits that could expedite the ripening process. According to Avocados From Mexico growers, “ripe bananas contain a natural plant hormone called ethylene, which triggers ripening in mature fruit.” Apples, tomatoes, peaches, and plums can all have the same effect.
Freeze Puréed Avocado
When avocados go on sale, it is hard to resist putting a whole carton of this coveted fruit in your shopping cart. Thankfully, for the guacamole lovers out there, it is actually quite simple to avoid the high price when making this delectable dish at home.
While the whole fruit will not last long, you can make the basic component of your appetizer and freeze it! Just like when making your signature guac, remove the pit and skin. Then mash up the fruit into your preferred texture.
If lemon or lime is a part of your secret recipe, add some of this sour juice to the mix. Then freeze it in a freezer-safe container for anywhere between four and six months! Then, when ready to eat, just defrost the amount your recipe requires and add in your other fresh ingredients.
IMPORTANT NOTE: First, for those ladies who are expecting a little bundle of joy and are hoping to get the folate benefits that come from avocados, freezing the fruit can diminish the quantity of water-soluble B-Vitamins.
While they won’t completely disappear, there will be significantly less of this essential vitamin than if consumed fresh. Second, upon thawing, the mixture will brown quickly. This is especially true if you do not include citric acid in the mixture. Thus, avoid waste by freezing small portions.
Buy At Big Box Stores
Businesses like Costco and Sam’s give customers the opportunity to buy in bulk at a reduced rate. Avocados and pre-made guacamole are sold at these establishments, sometimes cutting that expensive price tag in half! Thankfully, avocados seem to always be in season.
If you are buying avocados from Mexico, the peak season is November through April. Conversely, California avocados are best from May through August. Thus, if you like to eat guacamole year-round, make sure to stock up prior to September and October.
This is the time where you will find fewer products on the shelves and therefore an increased price.
On Super Bowl Sunday 2021, a projected eight million pounds of guacamole was consumed. The demand for this delicious and healthy fruit makes for an expensive price tag and this directly affects the cost of your guacamole.
Even though “a single California Avocado tree can produce on average about 60 pounds or 150 fruit a year”, it is hard for our country to keep up with the supply of avocados. Therefore, when this creamy fruit does go on sale, stock up! Make sure to freeze it so that you and others can enjoy it year-round!
Heidi is a wife, mother, Newfie owner, writer and Meteorologist. She was born and raised in Texas and has worked in the broadcast industry for over a decade.