The limepocalypse seems to have come to an end. After a spike in prices of the fruit this past year, the cost of the lime appears to finally be back to normal, which will surely be a relief for grocery shoppers and restauranteurs.
After a bout of bad weather, disease, and cartel violence in Mexico, the United States’ main source for the importation of limes, the price of the fruit skyrocketed to as high as $1.50 per lime. The U.S. receives more than 90 percent of its imported limes from Mexico, and depends on the country for the fruit. However, after Mexico suffered heavy rains last year which affected its lime crops, which were already diseased at that point, the limes became scarce as a product for import to the U.S. Additionally, due to the scarcity and high value of the fruit, drug cartels began raiding crop trucks and leftover lime groves. In fact, many lime growers refused to even send their trucks out for this reason.
Limes are often known as “green gold” in Mexico, and for a long while, the lime industry was primarily controlled by the drug gangs in the country, even telling the farmers where and when to sell their crops and at what price. The cartel would often even take up to ten percent of the 2,000 profits per week. This went on for a while. That is, until the federal police started cracking down on the drug gangs in Mexico. Now, farmers are enjoying their profits, even during the past year’s lime shortage and price hike.
Lime costs are now back to normal after the spike in prices this past year, with individual limes selling for 30 cents each. In some stores, however, prices of the fruit are still up around a $1.00, but they still seem to be dropping steadily. The lime panic had limes formerly selling for as high as $1.50 for each individual lime and in some cases, for over $100 for large boxes. Restaurant owners and chefs had a hard time deciding whether to shell out the cash for the citrus fruit. Drinks and foods such as Margaritas, Guacamole, and Gin and Tonic, among others all using limes, the scarcity and high prices of the fruit became an issue in many restaurants. The lime prices were particularly an problem in Mexican restaurants, which use limes in a multiplicity of food and drink items. Some restaurants decided to try to substitute other citrus fruits for limes, including lemons and grapefruits, which others opted to leave the all fruit out of the equation altogether, since there was no other citrus fruit that tasted like a lime.
Boxes of limes that were selling for 40 dollars a box are now selling for 6 dollars, which is a relief for the owners of restaurants, and also for grocery shoppers. At this time last year, cases, on average, were going for 35 dollars on average. The lime costs finally getting back to normal after the spike in prices this past year can be greatly attributed to improved weather in Mexico and to a far more successful crop of limes this Spring than the one last year.
By Laura Clark