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Mexican protests could signal fluctuating avocado prices this season





Avocados have become so ubiquitous they are easy to take for granted. But there’s a battle taking place behind the scenes that could cause prices to rise for the hot commodity.

Canadians love avocado. In fact, imports to the country have increased 40 per cent since 2013, and the vast majority — 94 per cent — of the avocado Canadians eat is imported from Mexico, according to Statistics Canada.  

In Mexico, the centre of avocado production is the state of Michoacán, which grows 80 per cent of the country’s avocado crop. The state, crisscrossed by mountain ranges, is in western Mexico with a stretch of Pacific coastline.

Some say Michoacán avocados are among the best in the country, renowned for their creamy texture and smooth skin. 

For the past few weeks, nearly 1,000 avocado growers in Michoacán have set up blockades preventing avocados from leaving the state, according to Ramon Paz, the strategic advisor of the Association of Producers, Packers and Exporters of Avocado in Mexico (APEAM). 

Blockades hurt suppliers

Michoacán growers were protesting exceptionally low wholesale prices.

According to Julie Sage, an avocado buyer based in Vancouver with Discovery Organics, growers in Michoacán usually get between 30 to 50 pesos per kilogram (or $2 to $3) for their fruit, but prices had dropped to 20 pesos (about $1.30) or even lower.

A picture taken on October 18, 2016 of an avocado orchard in Zirahuen, in the Mexican state of Michoacan. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)

The growers’ association says the blockades have cost the state an estimated $20 million per day in losses and choked off North America’s avocado supply, leaving suppliers scrambling to find enough fruit to fill orders, and raising prices. 

“Produce is still based on supply and demand, mostly,” Sage said. “But supply is limited and the price is going to go up, obviously.”

This week, negotiations between growers and packers reached a successful conclusion, but the repercussions linger. 

The Mexican state of Michoacán is the centre of global avocado production. Canada imported 74,270,985 kilograms of Mexican avocados in 2016, according to Statistics Canada data. (Carlos Jasso/Reuters)

Armando Castillon, the president of GC Importers, a Vancouver-based company which specializes in importing Mexican produce, says the protests in Michoacán have affected his business. For example, he says he had to switch a shipment of avocados intended for Europe to Montreal last minute to fulfil a contract. 

Even though other avocado-producing states in Mexico were still sending fruit to Canada, Castillon says Michoacán avocados are often better quality.

I’ve got clients, mostly restaurants, that want and specifically ask for Michoacán​ avocados,” Castillon said.

High supply, low prices

The fruit once known as “poor man’s butter” has become lucrative given increased consumer demand.  And Sage says other Mexican states want in on the cash crop.

“The domestic market prices are very low. If you’re an avocado grower, you want to export your production. This is where the money is,” Sage said.

A employee works at an avocados packaging plant in the municipality of Uruapan, Michoacán State, Mexico. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)

Castillon says other countries — like Chile and Peru — are also increasing their production and threatening Michoacán’s avocado dominance.

All of this has the effect of increasing the supply of avocados and deflating prices for Michoacán’s avocado farmers — which led to the strike.

Continued unrest

Even though Paz says negotiations have been successful and normal operations will likely resume this week, Castillon says the volatility of the market will keep prices fluctuating for consumers.

Some farmers aren’t going to be happy because the price isn’t going to go up in a hurry and we should expect some more of these strikes throughout the season.”

Sage says it’s part of challenge of meeting increasing consumer demand for the trendy Central American fruit.

“Mexico is a wild place to do business in.”

With files from Yvette Brend


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Real Estate

The cost of renovating your bathroom in Toronto in 2021





Home renovations can be a big task, especially bathroom renovations where you have to work with either an awkwardly shaped space, or one with lots of pipework and very little natural light.

Nonetheless, getting a bathroom renovation by Easy Renovation to change your existing bathroom layout, improve the ambience or add more natural skylights can be worth all the trouble. But determining how much a bathroom renovation would cost is important while setting a budget.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things with social distancing rules, working from home, and for some, being made redundant. Therefore, having a complete grasp of the financial implication of a bathroom innovation is very important.

Owning your dream bathroom can be made a reality and the good thing is, regardless of your financial situation, there are always available options. If you also decide to put up your property for sale in the future, a bathroom upgrade would be a great investment—as it would add significant value to the property. Your bathroom renovation project, like every home renovation, can either be very affordable or extravagant, but one thing is certain, you’re bound to have a more refreshed, stylish and modernistic space.  

Looking through detailed sketches of luxurious and expensive bathrooms can be quite tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. However, your bathroom can be equally transformed into something that looks just as modern, stylish and refreshing but without the heavy price tag.

Conducting a partial bathroom renovation means you only have to change a little part of your existing bathroom rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. If you intend to carry out this type of bathroom renovation in Toronto, depending on the size of your bathroom, you can spend between $1,000 – $5,000. With a partial bathroom renovation, you can save money by tackling smaller problems that exist in your present bathroom—or you can just upgrade a few of its features.

Partial bathroom renovations are quite affordable and would leave your bathroom feeling new and stylish without being time-consuming or a financial burden—which is important considering the economic impact of the pandemic. Repainting the bathroom walls, replacing the tiles on the floor and in the shower area are examples of partial bathroom renovations which is the cheapest to accomplish.

A more expensive and popular bathroom renovation is the standard 3- or 4-piece renovation. This renovation type involves a lot more services that are not covered by a partial renovation budget. To execute a standard bathroom renovation in Toronto you need a budget of about $10,000 – $15,000.

Unlike with a partial renovation, you would have to make a lot more changes to various elements of your bathroom without the hassle of changing the overall design. You can easily restore your current bathroom into a modernistic and classy space that fits your existing style. Making changes to more aspects of your bathroom is quite easy since there is more room in your budget to accommodate it.

A standard 3- or 4-piece renovation includes everything in a partial renovation plus extras such as revamped baseboards, installing a new bathroom mirror, buying new lights, installing a new vanity, changing the toilet, and buying new shower fixtures.

If you’re one of those looking to make a complete overhaul of your existing bathroom, then the option of a complete bathroom remodel is for you.

Unlike a bathroom renovation, remodelling means a complete change of your current bathroom design and layout for one that is newer and completely unrecognizable. The possibilities when remodelling a bathroom are endless especially when you have a large budget of over $15,000. That way, you can get the opportunity to create the perfect bathroom for yourself.

In addition to all that’s available with a standard bathroom renovation, bathroom remodelling allows you to make bathtub to shower conversion, relocation of plumbing, relocation of the toilet, reframing the bathroom and even relocating the shower.

In conclusion, a bathroom renovation can be a very important upgrade to your home and depending on the features that you decide to include, in addition to the size of your bathroom, this would influence the total cost of the project.

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Real Estate

7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary





Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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Real Estate

‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market





The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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