In the past few years the popularity of the avocado has soared, turning it from a luxury item to an essential almost every supermarket trip. But what if avocados were no longer easily available?
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That’s currently the situation in New Zealand, where the lack of avocados is currently facilitating a crime wave. A poor season last year has led and an increase in demand – 96,000 new households have begun purchasing them – have led to the price jumping to £2-3 each. As such over 40 large scale thefts from avocado orchards have been reported since January, with up to 350 of the delicious fruits being stolen each time.
The robberies usually take place at night, with thieves raking the avocados from trees and collecting them in blankets or sheets on the ground or handpicking them. They are then sold to pop up stalls on the side of the road, grocery stores or small-scale sushi, fruit and sandwich shops.
Sergeant Aaron Fraser of Waihi had this to say:
There have been spates of avocado thefts during my time on the force but nothing as sustained as this current activity.
These stolen avocados can carry risks.
They are unripe, some have been sprayed recently and they may still carry toxins on the skin.
But with the prices so high at the moment, the potential for profit is a strong inducement for certain individuals.
Fortunately, Jen Scoular, New Zealand Avocado CEO (an apparent real job title), thinks that the thefts should subside soon as a new bumper season should flood the markets shortly:
It’s an easy way to make a quick buck, but I don’t think we are dealing with a sophisticated or highly organised operation here, more opportunistic.
This stolen fruit will only have made it to the local markets, it would never reach our export markets.
With the bumper crop coming, thieves will have less of an incentive to steal avocados. More farmers are installing automatic lights and alarm systems too which should discourage them as well.
Phew. It looks as if the great avocado crime wave of early 2016 is going to be an isolated event. Thank God.
To be honest though I’m not even sure why so many people buzz off them in the first place – here are five reasons why they completely suck.