Waitrose reveals rise of the emergency avocado

The rise of the ’emergency AVOCADO’: Waitrose reveals tropical fruit was among top five most requested items on delivery app in every UK city – with brunch-time favourite most popular in Oxford, Cambridge and Brighton

  • Waitrose report reveals avocados were its most in-demand items on Deliveroo
  • Tropical fruit was among top five most requested items in every city in the UK
  • Data comes despite growing concerns of environmental impact of avocados

Sales of ’emergency avocados’ from Waitrose on Deliveroo have soared over the past year, according to the supermarket chain’s annual report. 

Avocados were among Waitrose’s top five most requested items through the delivery app in every city in the UK and were the most in-demand in Oxford, Cambridge and Brighton, the report revealed.  

The fruit was also popular in the north, with avocados in fourth place in Newcastle and second in Glasgow and Birmingham. 

A Waitrose spokeswoman suggested the ’emergency avocado trend’ was driven by people wanting to enjoy brunch on Saturday or Sunday. 

However, the report also found that nearly 70 per cent of Waitrose customers said reducing their climate footprint was either ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ important, despite growing concern about the environmental damage caused by intensive farming of avocados. 

Avocados were among Waitrose’s top five most requested items through Deliveroo in every city in the UK

A Waitrose spokeswoman suggested the ’emergency avocado trend’ was driven by people wanting to enjoy brunch on Saturday or Sunday

Pictured: The most requested Waitrose items on Deliveroo in cities across the UK, as revealed in the supermarket’s annual report

The labour to make avocados is very water intensive – with a kilo of avocados requiring 2000 litres of water to grow.

And this, coupled with the Western fascination with the fruit, has led to avocados  being linked with water shortages, human rights abuses, illegal deforestation, ecosystem destruction and general environmental devastation in Mexico.

Earlier this year, Countryfile presenter Adam Henson warned of the devastating impact of the fruit on the environment. 

He said: ‘Avocados and almond milk are disastrous for the environment. It isn’t a simple argument.

‘Beef, sheep and dairy farmers are having fingers pointed at them quite a lot about health and climate change, but the industries are doing a huge amount about that.

‘So, I would urge people to eat British food and don’t buy cheap food from abroad.’

The problems that come from the West’s fascination with avocados have a lot to do with geography. Some 40 per cent of the fruit comes from Mexico and almost all of that is grown in the rural western state of Michoacan.

The region’s fertile volcanic soil and temperate climate allow avocados to be harvested all year round, as opposed to other countries where they can only be harvested in summer. 

The rich soil means the notoriously thirsty avocado trees need only a third as much water as they do elsewhere. 

However, Mexico’s avocado industry is accused of damaging the health of locals with the chemicals sprayed on the orchards. 

Experts are concerned that the fumigation of the trees is behind growing breathing and stomach problems – and may also be polluting water supplies.

A Mexican government study concluded that soaring avocado production has caused a loss of biodiversity, environmental pollution and soil erosion. 

It has also damaged the natural water cycle and threatened the survival of animal species only found in the area. Farmers exacerbate deforestation by using trees for avocado crates.

Why are avocados bad for the environment?  

Avocado sales in the EU, UK and US have grown exponentially in recent years – with it hailed for its health and healing benefits.

But recently there’s been a backlash against the fruit due to it’s harmful impact of the environment.

The labour to make avocados is very water intensive – with  a kilo of avocados requiring 2000 litres of water to grow.

This has lead to it being linked with water shortages, human rights abuses, illegal deforestation, ecosystem destruction and general environmental devastation in Mexico.

The problems that come from the West’s trendy fascination with avocados have a lot to do with geography. Some 40 per cent come from Mexico and almost all of that is grown in the rural western state of Michoacan.

The region’s fertile volcanic soil and temperate climate allow avocados to be harvested all year round (in other countries they can only be harvested in summer). The rich soil means the notoriously thirsty avocado trees need only a third as much water as they do elsewhere. 

 Mexico’s avocado industry is also accused of damaging the health of locals with the chemicals sprayed on the orchards. Experts are concerned that the fumigation of the trees is behind growing breathing and stomach problems, and may be polluting water supplies.

A Mexican government study concluded that soaring avocado production has caused a loss of biodiversity, environmental pollution and soil erosion. It has also damaged the natural water cycle and threatened the survival of animal species only found in the area. Farmers exacerbate deforestation by using trees for avocado crates.

Elsewhere, the avocado industry has also been linked to shocking human rights abuses. 

Earlier this year, the Kent-based owner of a massive Kenyan avocado farm which supplied British supermarkets settled claims of human rights abuses with 85 alleged victims for up to £4.6million.

Armed security guards working at Kakuzi, a 54-square mile farm north of Nairobi, were accused of committing abuses between 2009 and January 2020.

The allegations include that farm guards beat a 28-year-old man accused of stealing avocados to death, raped 10 women and committed dozens of brutal attacks on people in nearby villages.

Camellia, which is valued at £180million and has a majority stake in Kakuzi, will spend up to £4.6million on the settlement, including compensation, legal costs and funding schemes for the community.  

Leigh Day believe that guards intentionally and systematically mistreated members of the surrounding communities and physically punished local community members for crossing Kakuzi property.

The new annual Waitrose report also revealed that middle class Brits are ditching meat and adopting a ‘climatarian diet’ in a move to reduce their carbon footprint.

Dubbed the ‘new 5:2 diet’ – a reference to a popular weight loss method where people only diet two days a week – eco-conscious Britons are spending five days a week veggie and treating themselves to meat at weekends.

But it’s not just cutting down meat consumption to be more green, Waitrose shoppers are also looking for other ways to be more eco-friendly with their diets, including minimising food waste by donating excess food and not buying groceries wrapped in excess packaging. 

 The report also found Britain has become a nation of homebodies, as we have fallen back in love with our homes and rediscovered the joy of intimate dinner parties.

Sales of Champagne are up 40 per cent year-on-year as customers spend more money on little treats as we emerge from the pandemic. 

Over the year, we also brought our kitchens outdoors – one in five of those surveyed said they’d invested in a new barbecue while one in ten said they’d installed an outdoor bar.

The report into how our eating and drinking habits have evolved over the past 12 months also highlights how social media has influenced our shopping lists. 

Platforms such as Instagram and TikTok have driven sales of everything from feta and tortillas to pesto and potatoes due to viral food trends. 

The TikTok trend for making pasta chips at home contributed to a 400 per cent rise in sales of air fryers at John Lewis.

The way Brits shopped has changed too, with a quarter of Waitrose shoppers buying groceries online for the first time in 2021, while the number of people buying food on a daily basis has doubled in a year. 

These shopping trends – increased frequency and the continued growth of online – will only accelerate in the future. 

A third of people polled have been using on-demand food delivery apps during the pandemic. 

Over the year we extended our partnership with Deliveroo to 150 locations; our report’s Deliveroo Map reveals the nation’s most popular products for rapid home delivery (they’re not what you might think).

James Bailey, Executive Director at Waitrose, told FEMAIL: ‘The past 19 months have seen us fall back in love with our homes. 

‘We’ve rediscovered the fun, creativity and sense of togetherness that food brings to our households and many have embraced the inspiration that we get from popping to the shops to pick up our groceries. 

‘The majority of the people we surveyed told us the pandemic has fundamentally changed their outlook: they’re more conscious of their mental and physical health, they’re enjoying life’s simple pleasures, and they’ve embraced the importance of family and friends.’ 

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