What is causing lime prices to skyrocket?

MGN Online
Sunday, April 13, 2014 - 1:00pm

Prices for limes grown in Mexico are on the rise after a shortfall in production.

So will this lead to an increase in the price of your margarita?

In Mexico, they're practically a sacred institution.

The mighty lime is used in drinks, food, and well just about everything.

In recent months, a big drop in production has meant limes are in hot demand and prices have shot up.

Grower Juan Leana Malpica says he is receiving 20 times as much for his limes as six months ago.

Prices normally rise at this time of year but there are other more important factors.

"There's the devastation caused by a citrus disease. Then there is climate change. With the arrival of winter there has been a cold snap in neighboring states. And what I feel is most devastating are the price speculators," Malpica told CNN.

Malpica also points to recent insecurity in the state of Michoacán, a top lime producer.

Many growers simply can't or won’t get trucks on the road.

Those most directly affected are Mexican consumers.

"I normally buy two kilos,” one woman said, “but now I buy a half and only use them for absolute essentials."

Mexico is the world's largest lime producer and markets in the United States and Europe are also feeling the brunt.

So are you going to be paying more for your margarita?

"I can tell you this time last year we were paying approximately 36 dollars a case. The first delivery this morning was 110 dollars a case. We've not passed that onto the guest and don't plan to," said Jay Holmes, of Rosa Mexicano in New York City.

All the same, with so many items on the menu dependent on limes, the chain of 15 restaurants says it will have to pay an extra $650,000 dollars this year if prices stay the same.

This means a big pay day for those growers who have not been hit by shortages.

"Producers are going to invest their money in the own fields because that's the way of improving, this exporter says. You can fertilize better, you have more possibilities to put in a system of irrigation," exporter Lauro Arispe Cortes told CNN.

The Mexican government is also trying to ramp up future supply by introducing new methods to produce limes all year round.

The government and farmers expect prices to begin falling in May.

Their concern is the recent experience may leave consumers and businesses, a bit sour.

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