Farmers stuck with a glut of worthless avocados

Four years ago Australian farmers were betting big on avocados. People were eating more and more of the fruit, thanks to the rising popularity of smashed avocado toast. So famers started planting more trees. Those trees are now mature and bearing fruit — lots of it. But because of the pandemic people aren't eating in cafes and the supply chain is broken. The bumper crops of worthless avocados are withering away in refrigerated warehouses or being plowed back into the soil.

In the land that allegedly invented avocado toast, the superfood that is its main ingredient is suddenly super cheap. A combination of increased supply and reduced demand — slashed by months-long lockdowns that shuttered cafes in Sydney and Melbourne — has sent the supermarket price of an avocado plummeting to about 60 cents.

As Australia reopens and consumers salivate at the prospect of a hot avo-toast summer, farmers that were flush a few years ago are now feeling crushed. Some are dumping the formerly expensive fruit any way they can, including turning them into cooking oil or running them over with tractors.