Avocado theft in South Africa:

South Africa is the world’s sixth-largest avocado exporter.

Despite the achivement, Avocado farmers in SA, have a BIG-BIG Problem.

Farmers like Mr. Alcock are entangled in a cat-and-mouse game with…

Fruit thieves who steal thousands of Avocado fruit at a time.

Many avocado growers have resorted to STERN security measures borrowed from gold mines and other big-money targets.

They’ve armed themselves like the marines going for combat.

One measure they’ve taken is to guards the avocado farms 24/7.

“It seems a bit drastic,” Mr. Blight said. “But avocados are the green gold.”

“As the value of the product rises, the accessibility of it rises because there’s more orchards being planted,” said Howard Blight.

The property is guarded by an electric fence standing more than 7-feet high and topped with barbed wire.

The lure of avocado theft spans oceans. The California Avocado Commission has a theft-reporting hotline.

In Mexico, rival drug cartels battle for a slice of the multibillion-dollar fruit trade.

The global avocado market is expected to grow from about $12.2 billion in 2020 to $17.9 billion by 2025, according to ResearchAndMarkets.com, which provides research for a swath of industries.

Farm theft in South Africa used to be for small potatoes.

They would be stolen to eat or sold by the roadside.

“Robbers now work closely with organized crime networks that can launder the fruit into legitimate markets,” Says the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, an NGO.

According to a 2018 survey by the South African Subtropical Growers’ Association,

South Africa’s avocado farmers suffer annual losses of about 24 million South African rand, around $1.7 million.

Large ORGANISED gangs launch choreographed raids on farms.

They harvest Hass avocadoes, wash and pack them  in boxes, thereafter hawk them in markets across the country.

A handful of thieves are like a herd of Jumbos.

They can easily pick a ton of avocados in a few hours and load them into trucks.

That kind of haul might take a single worker as long as two 8-hour shifts and is worth about ZAR10,000, or $710.

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Alexandra Wexler

Wall Street Journal