The avocado toast thing just will not die.
In May, Financial Counselling Australia researcher Mia Shelton said at an FCA conference in Melbourne that “Financial difficulties for young people are very real and it’s not just about avocado on toast.” It’s a cutesy little reference thrown out for the conference attendees, who we presume are older Boomers who think smashed avo on toast is literally just a $20+ extravagance consisting of mashed avo on naked white bread. The Australian Financial Review went one step further earlier in 2018, calling young professionals the “smashed avocado generation”. I can’t even look at a smashed avo item on a brunch menu nowadays and wonder if I’m failing at life by incrementally giving up my chance to yoke myself to a crippling mortgage over a property in a bubble that’s expected to pop at any moment. It’s almost enough to make you ragequit avo brunches and stick to baked eggs.
Why is Avocado Toast So God Damned Expensive? (Hint: It’s not)
Every time I see a small-l liberal American on social media post about how expensive avocado toast is in Melbourne I want to flip a table. How much is your minimum wage again? I’ll wait while you look it up in your state. Let me tell you ours. As of writing this article, the national minimum wage in Australia is $18.93 per hour. We’re not going to get into the details of whether or not that is a living wage in various bits of Australia given rising rent and the cost of living (Answer: It’s not, but you can read about Labor’s failed plan to change our minimum wage into a living wage here), but it’s a sight better than the horror show of a system that certain other countries have, where wait staff have to survive off tips and therefore constantly endure shit like harassment from customers. Australia isn’t perfect, but the minimum wage is one reason why our avo toast costs more than yours.
A brunch place in Sydney, Sticky Fingers, was also asked about the cost. Their answer was:
“Avocados are retailing at $48 per box and there are 22 in a box which makes it just over $2 an avocado. Our avo on toast is $15. It comes on two slices of sourdough with goats cheese, truffle honey and pistachio nuts. We put in half to one avocado per dish depending on size of avocado so 13 per cent of the base cost of our avo on toast dish is attributed to avocado. When you consider the cost of other ingredients, the base cost of an avocado is extremely high in comparison.” […] Then there is the cost of the labour, which is estimated to make up about 30 per cent of the price — you need someone to order the avocados, prep the avocado and toast, take the order, serve the order, and then clean the dish it was served on. Rounding out the cost are other overheads (eg rent and utilities) along with miscellaneous expenses such as paper supplies (menu), printing, advertising, accounting, insurance, flowers, cleaning services and a whole raft of other expenses that go into running a restaurant.
There. Labour, rent, and such aside… I’m not sure what people think avocado toast is meant to be, but in a good cafe in Melbourne, it’s often very cheffy. Here are some examples:
How Did This Stoush Start Anyway?
We can’t actually blame American twitter for everything. The avo-toast-is-preventing-you-from-a-mortgage terrible idea was actually from an Australian. *GASP*, I know, we were the arbiters of our own laughing stock status. More accurately, the latest meme started in 2017 from Aussie millionaire and property mogul Tim Gurner, who said:
“When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each.”
Sure, Mr Gurner. We’ll overlook the fact that your parents could send you to Carey Grammar and you could borrow $34,000 from your grandfather for your first business. A lot of these “self-made” people looking down on the so-called avo toast millennials really need to take a more careful look at their privilege. And besides, as the twitterverse pointed out:
This wasn’t the first time the avo toast paradigm has been fired out at the younger generation from an Aussie millionaire. In 2016m Bernard Salt, KPMG-partner-turned-The Australian-columnist, complained:
I have seen young people order smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread at $22 a pop and more. I can afford to eat this for lunch because I am middle-aged and have raised my family. But how can young people afford to eat like this? Shouldn’t they be economising by eating at home? How often are they eating out? Twenty-two dollars several times a week could go towards a deposit on a house.
You’d think that being a partner in KPMG would’ve allowed Salt to run the math between the cost of toast and a deposit on a house with current Aussie housing prices. Like Gurner, the article was widely mocked on Australian social media. We remember here a few of our favourites:
tldr: just eat what you want, smashed avo generation. You’re likely already better at saving than you think anyway. The housing bust is upon us and daily news remains a depressing read. In this climate, we all deserve to treat ourselves now and then. In other words: time for some avo toast.