Since avocados became a trendy superfood over the last decade, especially among millennials, the high demand has led to sky-rocketing prices. But, as Carte Blanche puts it, this has also resulted in a crime wave in the avocado sector in South Africa.
This comes after the South African avocado sector has seen rapid growth in recent years as the demand for avocados has exploded world-wide. Demand in South Africa has also increased rapidly as has, along with it, a growing informal business.
“People have realised that they can make money out of avocados and supply smaller traders who either sell along the country’s roads or supply others who may even pack fruit and supply wholesale markets,” writes Fred Meintjies for Fruitnet. “The problem is not restricted to avocados only, with the macadamia industry also claiming big losses.”
And so, Carte Blanche set out to investigate the reason for this crime wave in parts of the country. They describe the segment as:
“With ready markets in towns and cities, it’s in avo farming heartland where large-scale looting originates. Carte Blanche travels to Tzaneen in the Limpopo province where virtually every farmer has been affected and we meet the small but savvy army of private security and their bloodhounds that are taking the fight to the green gold grabbers”.
Limpopo Farmer Howard Blight (South African Avo Growers Association) says in the segment that avocados make for easy money when sold on the street.
“It runs into hundreds of millions of Rands…stealing avocados is not unique to South Africa. There are mafia bosses running cartels of avo theft stealing truckloads of avocados in Mexico.”
Two years ago it is said that South Africa produced around 130 000 tonnes of avos on 19 000 hectares of farmland primarily around Mapumalanga and the Limpopo province.
It is reported that to run an avocado orchard, is ultimately not cheap.
“We’ve been having a massive theft problem overt he last four years, ” says another farmer. “Because the avo industry just boomed up and everyone wants to have it.”
This means that thieves will stop at nothing to get their hands on the avo.