The increase in exposure of the avocado has in turn opened it up to scrutiny from varied factions. Behind the bright green, health centric veneer we so often see on social media, lies the agricultural, environmental and corporate factors that constitute the lifecycle of the avocado, from trees in Mexico to plates in Hoxton.
Over the last two years, negative and mixed posts mentioning the avocado have dramatically increased. This reflects an increasing concern on ethical and environmental issues around the avocado from consumers.
Due to the high increase in demand for avocados over the past few years, deforestation has become a major environmental issue in Mexico. With the price of avocados on the rise (making them more economically valuable than other crops), forests are being knocked down to make way for more avocados to be planted.
Avocado orchards require twice as much water as a fairly dense forest meaning a decline in water volumes reaching other local areas that support the woodland and on which animals depend.
Whilst activists have highlighted the negative impacts that the avocado is causing, it’s news platforms that have taken on the stories and brought them into the public sphere. The Guardian’s post “In Mexico, the international appetite for this unique fruit is indirectly fuelling illegal deforestation and environmental degradation. So what are those who view the avocado as a basic food group supposed to do?” has received 2989 shares on Facebook along with 4.8k reactions. Other global publications such as the BBC and New York Times have also explored the negative impacts of the avocado and exposed them across social media.
On the back of this negative publicity for the avocado, brands have come under increased pressure to provide transparency on how they source avocados. More sustainable production methods are being demanded by consumers, with the majority of concerns being voiced on Twitter about sourcing methods and even packaging.
The concerns over sourcing has put the avocado on a spectrum of good and bad with ethical sourcers seeing an increase in business from growing conscientious avocado consumers.
Moreover, communities have become polarised with their sentiment towards the avocado. Vegans highlight the fact that avocados have been replacing meat in diets whilst also raising the health benefits of consumption. On the opposite side of the spectrum, environmentalists highlight the impact of avocado over-production on water scarcity, deforestation and air pollution.
The avocado could ultimately come undone by the very means to which it saw its rise to fame. Consumer power and demand for transparency along with a social media frenzy, fuelled its elevation as the epitome of health conscious eating. Equally, it’s demise could come from consumers demanding the same clarity on how the avocado is produced.
To get more insights on the avocado trend, read our full report about the avocado !