These stolen avocados can carry risks
June 15, 2016 2:57 AM   Subscribe

Avocado shortage fuels crime wave in New Zealand
Surging local and international demand for avocados is fuelling a crime wave in New Zealand. Since January there have been close to 40 large-scale thefts from avocado orchards in the north island of New Zealand, with as many as 350 fruit stolen at a time.

Jen Scoular, New Zealand Avocado CEO, said the recent thefts were concerning, but a bumper season of locally-grown avocados should flood the New Zealand market in coming weeks, reducing the incentive for thieves.

“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,” she said.
posted by moody cow (60 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Since January there have been close to 40 large-scale thefts from avocado orchards in the north island of New Zealand, with as many as 350 fruit stolen at a time.

No sooner have they dealt with one theft then there's another one. It's a constant game of guacamole.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:53 AM on June 15, 2016 [144 favorites]


Avocados sell for 45p in my local supermarket, that's after international transport, storage & refrigeration, any middle market and the supermarket's cut, so 350 gives a value at the end of the chain of GBP157.50. Its hardly one for the serious crime squad is it?
posted by biffa at 4:24 AM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


My mum just emailed me tonight complaining about the price of avocados in New Zealand. Apparently they are $6 each at the supermarkets at the moment.
posted by poxandplague at 4:32 AM on June 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


When I was in NZ about 15 years ago, they had baskets of avocados outside the supermarkets practically begging us to JUST TAKE THEM AWAY NOW.

Food fads, eh?
posted by kariebookish at 4:34 AM on June 15, 2016


I would have thought most NZ avos would have come from Queensland. Prices in Victoria have dropped massively in the past month, from about $4 ea to $1 ea. I'm sure it'll be better soon.
posted by wilful at 4:58 AM on June 15, 2016


"They know too much. There has to be a leak in the organization."
"You mean...?"
"Yes, we have to find the traitor!"
"But a guacamole hunt will tear the organization apart!"
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:01 AM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's possums. Or at least it's always them that nicks them from our tree in Brisbane.
posted by drnick at 5:01 AM on June 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


Until recently, theft of avacados was automatically a felony in California. The crime was commonly referred to as "grand theft avacado".
posted by vorpal bunny at 5:13 AM on June 15, 2016 [21 favorites]


Avocados sell for 45p in my local supermarket, that's after international transport, storage & refrigeration, any middle market and the supermarket's cut, so 350 gives a value at the end of the chain of GBP157.50. Its hardly one for the serious crime squad is it?

They're between 1 to 2 euros each by weight here in Finland. Averaging 4.5 to 8+ euros a kg
posted by infini at 5:15 AM on June 15, 2016


I wonder if California's guac cops could be sent their way?
posted by nat at 5:29 AM on June 15, 2016


Its hardly one for the serious crime squad is it?



Welcome to New Zealand! Nothing much happens here which is one of its many charms but it leads to somewhat light news stories .

Somewhat less charming is the price of food in NZ. It's high by most standards particularly given relatively low incomes so the comments above along the lines of 'but they're only X in Y even after shipping' are sadly a bit moot.
posted by southof40 at 5:37 AM on June 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


It's a constant game of guacamole.

dude that's not even the right number of syllables
posted by indubitable at 5:38 AM on June 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


The talk of "large-scale" thefts made me think of the Maple Syrup Caper and other food heists that were featured in this great episode of Gastropod.

But then I got to 350 avocados, and now all I can think of is the greatest porn intro of all time. (tw: James Deen, link is SFW, assuming no one at your work recognizes the actors or the style).
posted by sparklemotion at 5:40 AM on June 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


This topic was an item on the TV News last night.

Interviewer holding a mic up to an avo farmer: "So you have had some avos stolen?"
avo farmer: "Yeah found a coupla Tongans and a Maori in me crop with bags full of avos. Asked what they were up to. One said he was looking for his uncle"

Interviewer with a sushi maker: How the price of avos affected you?"
Sushi maker: "customers are getting the cheapest avo sushis ever!"

I didn't even know there was such a thing as avocado sushi. We're getting very globally hipster down here.
posted by arzakh at 5:56 AM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am glad that this consititues the height of crime in NZ.

Bravo, Kiwis. You done good.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:04 AM on June 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, across the pond, we're experiencing a household avocado drought because we're refusing to buy Mexican avocados for drug-cartel-related reasons. Every once in a while a store will get Chilean avocados and we just go crazy.
posted by Shepherd at 6:16 AM on June 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Avocados sell for 45p in my local supermarket, that's after international transport, storage & refrigeration [...]
Coupled with the quote from "New Zealand Avocado CEO" and the fact that most avocados are exports, it's most likely that a (near) monopsony / national marketing organisation contracts with supermarkets in places where avos don't grow at a fairly stable price ahead of time and that locals buy whatever is left over at a wildly fluctuating price.
posted by hawthorne at 6:16 AM on June 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


I didn't even know there was such a thing as avocado sushi. We're getting very globally hipster down here.

I don't know if you could call California roll hipster, it's been a thing since the seventies (and aparently invented in British Columbia, not California as I assumed).
posted by octothorpe at 6:32 AM on June 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is not real. Please calm down.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 6:52 AM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Avocado shortage fuels crime wave in New Zealand

Although (to my regret) I have never been to NZ, I would like to think this is some Antipodean equivalent to "Worthwhile Canadian initiative" as a sort of perfect example of a headline.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:53 AM on June 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


No sooner have they dealt with one theft then there's another one. It's a constant game of guacamole.

I stole this joke and now I'm going to Dad Joke Hell
posted by dismas at 7:06 AM on June 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


This reminds me of moving to the PNW from Florida, and realizing mangoes were about $2.50 each here while hundreds rotted on the ground near my house at home. I briefly entertained the thought of starting up a black market. Two fiddy a lotta money for something I could get for free. Alas, I never did become a mango mafioso.
posted by JLovebomb at 7:11 AM on June 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I am shocked and disappointed tbh that no one here has taken issue with big avocado downplaying the risks associated with stolen avos, like being "unripe, some have been sprayed recently and they may still carry toxins on the skin" *smh*
posted by moody cow at 7:14 AM on June 15, 2016


Yeah, this is kind of haha funny, but it's part of a larger, disturbing trend of large-scale food theft. On the surface a headline that reads anything about "Avocado Thieves" is going to be met with a chuckle, but this kind of stuff adds up. It also highlights food insecurities in our current systems that could be exacerbated down the line and cause Actual Problems™.

Gastropod covered a couple of these in an episode, namely cherries, almonds and maple syrup. I mean, the maple syrup thing alone was something like $18-20 million dollars? A single shipment of almonds missing cost one company $184,000. People are stealing bees for shitsake.

I fear we're going to see more and more of this kind of thing as climate change exacerbates boom and bust cycles of produce. I mean, like Shepard mentioned, cartels are rolling Avocados into their purvey.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:26 AM on June 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


I will dine richly tonight on avocado salad and grilled chicken breast. You may hand me the gold fork and knife.
posted by infini at 7:27 AM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


i was reminded the other day about the time when mayor laguardia banned artichokes in nyc as an attack on organized artichoke crime so fingers crossed for a similar hilariously ridiculous official response.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:40 AM on June 15, 2016


Q - What do you call a dip made from avocado?
A - Guacamole
Q - What do you call my dip made from avocado?
A - Nacho guacamole
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 7:46 AM on June 15, 2016 [12 favorites]


this is the pits


WOCKA WOCKA!
posted by roger ackroyd at 8:12 AM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


If wages are low and food prices are high, could at least some of this be a simple case of broke people stealing food for personal consumption? I remember that back long ago when I was a broke college student in California, I used to sneak into orange orchards at night and fill a backpack with ripe navel oranges on a pretty regular basis. They were delicious, and provided me with much-needed calories and nutrients. I never stole 350 at once, but I could believe I took that many over the course of one particularly difficult semester, and I'm just one guy. If there had been avocados nearby, you can bet I would have been after them—an avocado is some high-quality nutrition, lots of fat and protein.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:15 AM on June 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Interesting. Just the other day, my son's girlfriend, who happens to work for a certain über-hüge sandwich chain, was bemoaning that they have not gotten any avocados for the past several months, and there's no sign that they will be getting any for the foreseeable future.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:15 AM on June 15, 2016


Crime bears bitter fruit: Kiwis in a pickle as bad apples cherry-pick plum avocados, driving them bananas.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:17 AM on June 15, 2016 [58 favorites]


*rolls eyes*
Puns ARE the lowest form of humor.
* is jealous*

350 fruit stolen?
Shoot, I could guzzle half of that and call it lunch. Of course, there's always the fact that I am supposed to be on the 12 Step avocado program, but I can stop any time.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:28 AM on June 15, 2016


Crime bears bitter fruit: Kiwis in a pickle as bad apples cherry-pick plum avocados, driving them bananas.

Go home, everyone. The internet has been won for today.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 8:29 AM on June 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


If wages are low and food prices are high, could at least some of this be a simple case of broke people stealing food for personal consumption?

I'm not certain. Avos in NZ are big in the wanky cultural capital side of things, and you can get a lot more cash hawking them by the side of the road for people to buy off you at mildly- but not Countdown-inflated prices. My mum would come back from road trips up North with a sack of avocados that she had excitedly bought for, like, thirty bucks, and she would be bestowing "cheap" avocado largesse on us as long as they lasted. If you're starved there's lots of other seasonal fruit out there to nick off with -- people will pretty much beg you to take feijoas away in certain parts of Auckland. Avos are just very highly prized and people will not ask you hard questions about where you got them.

When I went to England and saw that you could get three avos for a pound I would buy twelve and stroke them, chuckling and gurgling.
posted by monster truck weekend at 8:33 AM on June 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


People are stealing bees for shitsake.

At first I thought, "They are stealing bees to make what kind of Japanese wine?"
posted by Splunge at 8:34 AM on June 15, 2016 [12 favorites]


Seems crazy that Avocados would be so high in New Zealand. I mean, it's prime avocado-growing territory, isn't it? Is it that Kiwis are only just discovering the avocado, so there isn't enough local production and they're having to import them? Though I imagine they aren't growing many domestically in the UK either, where they're apparently quite cheap. What's the deal with that?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:48 AM on June 15, 2016


When I went to England and saw that you could get three avos for a pound I would buy twelve and stroke them, chuckling and gurgling.

Oh wow, I thought I was the only one. The first time I went to Kenya and discovered 3 melon sized avocados could be had for the equivalent of 4 cents, I did exactly this.
posted by infini at 8:52 AM on June 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


What's the deal with that?

The UK's imports from Kenya are ~ 25% of it's exports, and much of it in horticultural and greenhouse produce, as well as flowers.
posted by infini at 8:53 AM on June 15, 2016


I stole this joke and now I'm going to Dad Joke Hell

Hello, Going to Dad Joke Hell! I'm Greg_Ace.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:02 AM on June 15, 2016 [13 favorites]


Is it that Kiwis are only just discovering the avocado, so there isn't enough local production and they're having to import them?

We have heaps of avos, the Bay is heaving with them, but they're just far too important an export to waste nationally. I think less than a third of all our avocado crop is sold locally. The rest of it is all chomped up by Australia and Japan. It's the same with lamb, and I can buy New Zealand lamb cheaper than England than I can back in Waiuku.

It is a HEARTBREAK and a DISGRACE that I must pay $8 NZD for St Pierre's double chicken & avocado sushi
posted by monster truck weekend at 9:12 AM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Somehow, I read this and an image of a shady man in a trench coat came to mind; in my imagination he walks up to me and swishes open his trenchcoat and inside are lots of avocadoes hanging all over. "Hey, buddy, I got the good stuff right here."

He looks like Michael Palin.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:13 AM on June 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


I would do crimes for an avocado if necessary.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 9:17 AM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am shocked and disappointed tbh that no one here has taken issue with big avocado downplaying the risks associated with stolen avos, like being "unripe, some have been sprayed recently and they may still carry toxins on the skin" *smh*

Took me a minute between reading that and going "hang on, who eats avocado skins?"
posted by kersplunk at 9:18 AM on June 15, 2016


This post is making me homesick
posted by piyushnz at 9:20 AM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


*rolls eyes*
Puns ARE the lowest form of humor.
* is jealous*


This thread is all about low hanging fruit.
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 9:22 AM on June 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


i love new zealand news stories like this!!!!! also avocados!!

but my fave kiwi news story features my uncle. and even better, it was sent to me in an email by my dad that was titled "Fwd: HELP"
posted by burgerrr at 10:03 AM on June 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


It's a constant game of guacamole.

dude that's not even the right number of syllables

Works if you imagine the speaker as Canadian: 'It's a constant game of whack-a-mole, eh?'
posted by jamjam at 10:15 AM on June 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


JLovebomb: "This reminds me of moving to the PNW from Florida, and realizing mangoes were about $2.50 each here while hundreds rotted on the ground near my house at home."

People in other places buy apricots. *boom* mind blown.

Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The: "Seems crazy that Avocados would be so high in New Zealand. I mean, it's prime avocado-growing territory, isn't it? "

This sort of thing isn't all that rare. Despite living within an hour of two plywood mills the softwood plywood we get in stores here often comes from out of province. And it is shit compared to the export grade material the local places are shipping to Japan and China.
posted by Mitheral at 10:39 AM on June 15, 2016


I am glad that this consititues the height of crime in NZ.

Yeah, no kidding
posted by IndigoJones at 12:43 PM on June 15, 2016


Just some thoughts on UK vs NZ food prices:

In NZ we pay GST (i.e. sales tax/VAT) on supermarket food - at 15%. In the UK you don't.
I suspect there are economies of scale in the UK (given that the population of NZ is about the same as that of South London).
We hear a lot about UK supermarkets driving hard bargains with their suppliers - I don't know how true that is, but I don't hear the same stories in NZ.
There's more competition in the UK - in NZ there's really only two supermarket groups (one of which has a couple of brands).

Side point - it's winter. We're out of season. In season, you could get 10 for $3 from a roadside stall in the Bay of Plenty. (And to add to that, food here will always be cheaper from a farmers' market or roadside stall than from a supermarket).
posted by Pink Frost at 1:32 PM on June 15, 2016


The crime wave machine is running on fumes. Quick, shovel more avocados into it!!!
posted by museum of fire ants at 2:57 PM on June 15, 2016




I recently moved to a house that has an avocado tree, which has not been fruiting at all.
Or so I assumed. Are my avocados being stolen?!?

ps if anyone has any tips to make my tree fruitier I'd love to hear them
posted by flaterik at 3:31 PM on June 15, 2016


flaterik: "I recently moved to a house that has an avocado tree, which has not been fruiting at all.
Or so I assumed. Are my avocados being stolen?!?

ps if anyone has any tips to make my tree fruitier I'd love to hear them
"

How about here?

posted by Splunge at 3:55 PM on June 15, 2016


I had found that page - I'm definitely going to try fertilization. Not going to Askme until I've done that least... but figured "hey, avocado thread, I'll throw it out there!"
posted by flaterik at 4:52 PM on June 15, 2016


I think this thread just got 'CADOED!
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:55 PM on June 15, 2016


ps if anyone has any tips to make my tree fruitier I'd love to hear them--flaterik

You need a female and a male avocado tree. The tree is actually both, but not at the same time, which is probably frustrating for a lonely tree.

I've also heard that it takes a few years for the tree to mature and grow avocados, but I can't find that information on the net at the moment.
posted by eye of newt at 9:30 PM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


At first I thought, "They are stealing bees to make what kind of Japanese wine?"

Dunno if they make wine but in Japan and other cultures they actually do eat bee larvae. Baby bees stolen from their bee-cradles.
posted by XMLicious at 2:35 AM on June 16, 2016


Let us hope that the police swiftly smash this racket.

Mmm, smashed avocado...
posted by acb at 4:03 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


And I was thinking this had something to do with last week's Oglaf. (Comic barely safe for work, site definitely NSFW.)
posted by McCoy Pauley at 1:31 PM on June 16, 2016


« Older Borges & $   |   Van Gogh on Dark Water Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments