High temperatures in Mexico and California, coupled with the effects of El Niño, have sent avocado prices to levels unseen in the United States since the import ban on the Mexican fruit was lifted in 1997.
Eight out of 10 avocados sold in the United States come from Mexico.
The avocado price rise was felt particularly just before the July 4 holiday.
Two months ago, the wholesale price of a single avocado was about $1, when purchased in the customary double-layer, 25-pound box of 48 avocados. This week, said produce wholesaler John Vena, who's been in the game for 40 years, an avocado costs about $1.70, as the wholesale box price is upwards of $80.
Consumers and smaller restaurants with weaker buying power are feeling the pinch the worst, because of markups and delivery charges.
"We're not offering [sides of] guacamole," said Ben Miller, who owns the restaurant South Philly Barbacoa with his wife, Cristina Martinez. "We're doing more salsas." The few avocados they now buy are used for guacamole spread on tortas.
Vena says he believes that some relief will be felt when Peruvian avocados reach the market, as will another "bloom" of Mexican avocados.