Limes falling out of the limelight

Valley bars and restaurants are facing a lack of zest on their menus this summer season.

The U.S. imports 95 percent of its limes from Mexico, but troubles in Mexico are leading to severe lime shortages and skyrocketed prices for the common citrus fruit.

Drug cartels, excessive water and tree disease are direct links to the shortage that is causing a problem for Mexican restaurants and bars not only in the valley area but across the U.S.



Lime buyers say prices have quadrupled in the last year. A case of limes used to cost around $14 and now carries a steep price at more than $100 a case.

Last week, limes were priced at 56 cents a piece. This time a year ago they ran for 31 cents a piece.

Mexico’s central state of Michoacán, the world’s largest supplier of limes, is in the middle of a civil war between self-defense groups and the drug cartel.

Cartels have continually hijacked lime trucks making it almost impossible to export the limes they have.

On top of trouble with cartels, Mexico experienced a large amount of rainfall, which in turn has flooded crops and wiped out large portions of the supply.

People are quickly turning to alternatives such as prepackaged lime juice or lemons as substitutes. On top of that, genetically modified limes have come into the limelight to replace the natural limes that were wiped out.

Restaurants are being forced to change their menus, cut out limes as garnish on drinks and raise the prices on margaritas.

The cost has become so high that airlines such as United Airlines and Alaska Airlines have taken limes out of their beverage service.

According to a Businessweek article, the disease that is killing off the plants not only affects limes but all other citrus fruits such as lemons, grapefruits and oranges.

The “greening disease” is causing the problems and the solution is to genetically alter the plants by inserting a protein that will kill the bacteria. But the real question is, would you want to eat genetically modified food?

The lime shortage leaves two options: You can either deal with it and stop eating limes or pay a little extra.

Although this has posed problems for businesses that rely on the fruit there is no fast solution. GMOs, then, are making headway into the supply of limes that we eat.

When it comes down to it, the problems leading to the shortage are out of human control. There is no quick solution, and the fact that crops have suffered from various reasons make it even harder to complain about the costs.

The outcome has been low-quality expensive fruit, but it’s just like any other shortage.

It is ridiculous to pay such a high amount for something so small and of low quality considering many of the limes have been small and basically juiceless.

But in the end, complaining won't solve the problem. Better luck next year.

Reach the columnist at or follow her on Twitter @laurenklenda

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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