Every September, I post pictures of Florida green-skin avocados — glossy globes, some the size of my head — that I harvest from my backyard trees in Miami or buy in farmers markets. Without fail, the comments roll in: Florida avocados are watery. They’re not creamy. They’re not Hass.
They’re also not just a single kind of avocado. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has published federal guidelines for commercially shipping almost 60 varieties of Florida green-skin avocados, not all of which are green, either (a few turn red, purple, or black). Brooks Tropicals was wily enough to rebrand the Florida green-skin avocado as the “SlimCado” — given its lighter oil content, it has 25 percent fewer calories per cup than Hass — and markets more than 70 varieties as such. Sometimes, the company is harvesting seven varieties, each of which has a peak season of four to six weeks, simultaneously. The shapes vary from globular to oblong to long-necked like a squash, and they weigh anywhere from one pound to two. But not only will shoppers barely notice the differences between them, Brooks Tropical’s marketing director, Mary Ostlund, said, “I get folks buying it thinking it’s a huge Hass avocado.”
The preference for Hass means that Americans have a serious problem. We each consume more than seven pounds of the fruit annually, according to the USDA. Of those, 95 percent are Hass, which averages about 13 percent oil content, as opposed to a typical Florida avocado, which can dip as low as 3 percent. But California’s 55,000 acres, most of which grow Hass and stand in the literal line of fire — not to mention proverbial droughts and punishing heat waves — produced a notoriously light crop of 210 million pounds in 2019.
Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission, said early projected volumes for 2020 are much higher, around 325 million. Still, that’s only a minuscule portion of the projected 3 billion pounds that Americans will require next year to satisfy our urges for artisanal avocado toast. “If prices were to…