Over the past few years, the list of shortages for businesses and consumers has been staggering. Take out containers, dishwashing fluid, breakfast cereal, New York cream cheese, toilet paper, meat, and now avocadoes. Consumer items have also been backlogged, like cars and winter coats.
It may be confusing because it seems like the worst of the pandemic is already over, and most places in the world are well on their way to returning to the status quo.
So What is the Hold-Up?
As we know, the COVID-19 pandemic seriously disrupted the global supply chain from bottom to top. Food and consumer item production centers have, for many decades, been located very far away from their final destination points.
China and Southeast Asia dominate the production centers. More tropical foods, and most foods during the winter, are produced very near to the equator. For North America, this means Mexico and South America.
Many of these countries were hit hard during the pandemic, which has caused factory closures and lockdowns. This means that because of items that were already in the supply chain, the shortage would follow with a time delay, as all of the products were used up with no more coming to fill the ongoing needs.
What About Avocados?
Mexico supplies 80% of North America’s avocados and one week of avocado inventory is 57 million pounds. The situation with avocados is even more complex.
Food supply chains have already been heavily disrupted due to the reasons mentioned above. But in this case, there is another element. Food inspectors work in Mexico, looking over every avocado to ensure there is no evidence of fungus or pathogens entering the country.
In February, one of these inspectors received a threatening phone call. As a result, inspection services opted to shut down imports and ban avocados from Mexico for the time being.
The results have been a huge blow to Mexico, and Mexican farmers as all of these avocados will dry up.
Some are pointing the finger of blame at Mexican gangs, many of which control avocado production. But tens of thousands of families rely on the income from working in the avocado industry, and they will suffer the most.
How the Shortage Affects Restaurants
When it comes to businesses, restaurants have truly received the lion's share of the bad news throughout the pandemic. Many have had to close, and those who struggled still had to say goodbye to most of their staff.
The price of avocados has already risen by 11% based on last year’s prices. Avocados are still available in North America but come at an incredibly steep price. Higher food costs mean lesser profits for the restaurant.
There is a point at which, no matter how much customers may want their green fruits on toast, restaurants will not be able to have avocados on the menu because they will lose money serving them.
With Cinco de Mayo around the corner, restaurants and consumers alike hope the ban will lift on time and prices will start to come down. While this is inevitable, it may also be prudent for restaurants to consider alternatives to offer customers in the meantime. Here are different alternatives to avocado toast to suit every need.
For the Replacement for Avocado Toast
Hummus with cucumber, some salt, cracked pepper, and a little fresh lemon juice can be a bright, crunchy alternative to avocado toast. The chickpeas in the hummus made it full of protein. The salt, pepper, and lemon give the topping a similar flavor to the traditional favorite. Plus, the cucumber provides an added crunch that customers might miss later on!
Another alternative toast topper, for those with a sweet tooth, is a nut butter like almond butter, sprinkled with flax or chia seed, crushed walnuts, raspberries, or chocolate chips, and a drizzle of maple syrup. The walnut, flaxseed, and chia seeds offer some omega 3s, and the almond butter is another healthy fat, so health-conscious customers will love the new option.
Dips like Guacamole for Chips
Guacamole is a tough replacement. People love it because it is sour, salty, savory, and a little bit spicy. This fresh dip is easy to make, and everyone seems to have their very own recipe.
Alternative options should include a pico de gallo served alongside a sour cream or cheesy queso. The double dip between the pico and the creamy dip will satisfy everyone’s guac withdrawal.
The reality is, even before the pandemic, there were food and supply shortages that restaurants overcame every year. With a strong team who can get behind delicious alternatives and explain the reasons to customers, this shortage does not need to be a disaster.
At Tiphaus, we want to make life easier for restaurant owners and managers, so check out our blog for more great tips.