Cinco de Mayo Special: The Avocado Import Market Is Heating Up

May 3, 2024
Cinco de Mayo’s rising popularity and commercialization throughout the U.S. has established May 5th as a day for celebrating Mexican-American culture with food and drink aplenty.

Per our tradition of highlighting unique bursts of demand throughout the US each year, we decided to take a closer look at how this unofficial holiday evolved into an occasion calling for more than 81 million pounds of fresh avocado consumption.

Read on for more about Cinco de Mayo’s origins and Americanization, the rising demand for fresh avocado imports, and — as a special holiday bonus — First Call’s guide to finding the perfect avocado (guacamole recipe included).

Cinco de Mayo History in Under 60 Seconds

Technically, Cinco de Mayo isn’t a national holiday, nor is it “Mexican Independence Day” (which is Sept. 16th). Instead, it marks the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla — a rallying event in Mexico’s defense of invading French occupation.

In late 1861, French emperor Napoleon III (nephew of THAT Napoleon) looked on incredulously as fellow European powers Britain and Spain avoided armed conflict with Mexico by negotiating repayments of the financial debts they were owed. Owning some of Mexico’s debt and being his uncle’s nephew, Napoleon III skipped negotiations and began claiming territory in east-central Mexico instead.

The following spring, French forces led an assault on the small town of Puebla de Los Angeles boasting a 3:1 manpower advantage. The fight lasted a single day — a day which saw Mexican resistance fighters rebuff the attack in a shocking victory and earn the resistance movement renewed support throughout the country.

A full century later, the battle’s anniversary (which had become synonymous with Mexican victory over foreign invaders) was adopted and expanded by the Chicano Movement, a major civil rights movement battling the widespread discrimination of Hispanic communities in post-WWII America.

The date retained its significance into the 1980s when its commercialization (largely credited to beer companies — recent studies estimate $745 million is spent on beer every May 5th) launched it into the general public’s collective consciousness.

Ok, Here’s Where The Avocados Come In

It’s estimated the US consumes 81 million pounds of avocados every May 5th, making Cinco de Mayo second only to the Super Bowl in terms of the fruit’s single-day popularity (and yes, they are indeed fruits).

Being that most modern Cinco de Mayo traditions stem from campaigns to sell Mexican food and beverages, it makes sense that food resides at the heart of even the most casual May 5th observances. Horton Fruit Company President Mike Wise chimed in on the surge of demand to spark the season of BBQs, burgers, salads and guac:

“Avocados are coming from Mexico, California and Peru right now. Cinco de Mayo will certainly provide a boost in sales this week, and kick off the Summer holiday season that stretches from this weekend through Memorial Day and July 4th.”

—Mike Wise, President, The Horton Fruit Company

Despite avocados’ ability to grow year-round and last year’s wet California winter providing some measure of relief for the region’s produce farmers, disproportionate spikes in demand continue pushing imports from Mexico to all-time highs. In 2021 the US imported $3 billion worth of avocados, with additional reports showing the US bought 86% of Mexico’s total avocado exports in 2022.

In addition to rising demand, Avocados come in hundreds of varieties requiring slight differences in storage temperatures to maintain optimal freshness while in transit, though generally a consistent 38 degrees Fahrenheit will preserve the fruit’s 3-4 week shelf life.

Put it all together from a logistics point of view and you’ve got an avocado market worth roughly $3 billion in perishable freight requiring reliable cross-border and reefer services each year — that’s not nothing.

How to Pick a Ripe Avocado

For those shoppers who tend to browse fresh avocados once or twice a year, here’s a quick guide to plucking a fresh avocado from the produce aisle:

  • Look for dark green to almost black coloring. Color isn’t always the best indication of avocado ripeness, but aim for a nice dark green one without any noticeable blemishes.
  • Perform a quick smell test. Ripe avocados can sometimes carry a sweet scent near the stem end. If it smells sour, chuck it.
    Avoid soft or mushy avocados. A ripe avocado should yield only slightly to pressure when you squeeze it; if it is soft or “mushy” it’s overripe. If it’s firm as a baseball it’s underripe.
  • Check ripeness by removing the stem. If it comes off easily and you see green underneath, you found a good one.
  • Avocado not ripening quickly enough? An avocado’s ripening process can be accelerated by placing it in a room-temperature paper bag with a banana or apple, which releases ethylene gas. Science!

First Call’s Favorite Guacamole Recipe

Bowl with tasty guacamole on dark background, closeup

Mike's 100% Can't Miss Guac Recipe


  • 3 medium avocados
  • 1 lime
  • 1 small white onion or shallot
  • 1 roma tomato
  • 1 jalapeno pepper


  1. Cut avocados in half, remove the seeds (carefully; they can be slippery) and scoop the good stuff into a mixing bowl.
  2. Dice your tomato and onion; throw that in the bowl too.
    Cut the jalapeno in half — for milder flavor, discard the seeds. For a spicy kick, feel free to leave them in!
  3. Dice the jalapeno halves and add to the bowl.
  4. Squeeze lime juice into the mixture.
  5. Mash and stir mixture until it looks like guacamole; add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Enjoy!

FCL: Experts in Produce, Food & Bev Transport

First Call owes its roots to the produce industry — that means we take our fruits and veggies seriously. With years of experience in food and beverage transport and full freight visibility software integrated throughout our shipping network, our team ensures perishable cargo arrives fresh and cold chains remain unbroken (ie. no more stranded pallets of ice cream sitting alone on a dock somewhere).

Contact First Call for more on how we provide peace of mind and cost-savings for businesses seeking to expand their produce shipping networks.

Simplify your Next Shipment with First Call Logistics

Building and managing cost-efficient supply chains is a full-time job. First Call’s rare combination of in-house assets, expert problem-solving and track record of stellar customer service makes us the 3PL of choice for business partners with a wide range of shipping needs.

More Logistics Resources

Get the latest supply chain news and updates directly to your inbox.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.