Avocados from Mexico

Doritos, Coca Cola, Bud Light, Snickers and even Butterfinger, will all be vying for TV airtime and coffee table snack space during this year’s SuperBowl. But if that sounds like too much junk food for your palate, don’t worry America! There’s a healthy alternative.

"Avocados from Mexico," a U.S. marketing arm for the Mexican avocado industry, will shell out approximately $6 million for a Super Bowl ad for the second year in a row. That's about 4 million avocados sold at supermarket prices to pay for the spot.

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The marketing company, which promotes Mexican avocado sales in the U.S., will roll out a silly Sci-Fi ad spot that features aliens gawking at the remains of human civilization and dipping their claws into some tasty guacamole.

Avocado producers in Mexico are hoping that the ad helps them to increase U.S. consumption of the fruit (yes, avocado is a fruit), which already exceeds 1.9 billion pounds, or around 4 billion avocados a year.

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An estimated 60% of avocados sold in the U.S. come from Mexico, and that market share is even higher during the winter months, when California and Texas get too chilly to produce the fruit. Mexican avocados, on the other hand, are “available all year round,” as the Super Bowl ad says.

Although the Mexican avocado industry is generally regarded as a success story, it's not without image problems. That’s because drug cartels in Michoacan state, where most of the avocado crop comes from, started to impose “taxes” on farmers in 2010, leading to temporary price hikes and concerns in the U.S. media that Americans were dipping their corn chips into “blood” guacamole.

In 2013, vigilante groups started to push the drug cartels out of Michoacan, and weakened their stranglehold on the avocado trade. But then the vigilante groups, some of which were directly funded or backed by avocado producers, also started to finance some of their expenses with avocado sales.

The Mexican government started to regain control over large swaths of Michoacan, thanks to the deployment of thousands of troops over the past two years. Some vigilante groups agreed to support the government's security efforts as “rural defense forces,” while others have laid down their weapons altogether. But the cartel threat remains strong in Michoacan, as the Jalisco New Generation cartel makes gains in the state.

So that's a lot to think about as you dip into your guacamole next Sunday. Or you could just watch aliens joking about Scott Baio. Provecho.

Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.