Chile: Avocado Thefts Rising Over High Prices

Avocados, known as paltas in Chile, are currently very pricey in the South American nation. The demand has made the prices go up so fast that thieves are now looking to make some money off the fruits.

Avocados are a very popular fruit in the country. They are used in hamburgers, salads, sushi and many other foods. The fruit can still be found around the country but in recent weeks, its price has quickly increased. The droughts in the country along with the heavy rains in Peru have contributed to the high prices.

Estimates say the prices have increased nearly 25 percent since the beginning of 2018. Thieves have noticed the high prices and have started stealing from those growing the popular fruit. Avocado thefts are nothing new but the situation has gotten so bad that those growing the fruit are now taking action.

Crescente Molina, who produces thousands of pounds of avocados in Chile every year, told Bloomberg by phone that they have taken action against thieves. He explained that they have already pulled avocado trees in the areas most vulnerable to theft. He added that the trees have been replaced with citrus trees, which are not as appetizing to thieves.

Demand for avocado has increased in recent years. Just three years ago, the South American nation exported almost 50 percent of its harvest. That number is now up to 71 percent. The UK has imported a percentage of that and estimates say the demand there has increased by nearly 30 percent in one year.

Europe continues to be Chile’s biggest exporting market for avocados but China could soon become another as ten percent of the avocados from last season were shipped there. Estimates say the demand will likely increase in the next few years.

The high avocado prices have also become the center of jokes by the population. Department store Ripley even came up with a promotion for CyberDay which went viral on social media. The store dropped prices on many of its tech products for CyberDay but had the Motorola Moto X4 selling in Chilean pesos or its equivalent in avocados.

The promotion seemed to be just a joke by the company but one avocado grower actually responded. He contacted the company through social media and he exchanged 127 pounds of avocado for a Moto X4 smartphone.