Lime prices have more than doubled over the last few months following regional violence and a bad harvest in Mexico, the country that provides the majority of the US supply.
The average price of a lime this time last year was 25 cents, but can cost up to 53 cents each depending on the store, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
Mexican states where more than 90 percent of the limes produced for US consumption have been hit by unusually cold weather and flooding, which has affected the harvest. Lime shipments have also been intercepted by drug gangs in the region, Reuters reported.
Mexican restaurants seem to be hit the hardest by the price surge, Reuters reported. For now, some restaurant owners who are feeling the squeeze are either taking lime-ingredient drinks off of their happy hour menu, or substituting with lemons. Some restaurants who used to pay anywhere between $4 to $25 for a case of limes are now having to pay $100 per case.
Aron Espino, a Mexican restaurant owner in Omaha, Nebraska, told the Fox television affiliate KPTM-TV that he’s rationing the few limes he has left. Customers won’t find limes with all meals and on the rim of their water glass like they used to.
“We need to save them for the things we really need to use them for,” like guacamole, Espino told KPTM.
But consumers shouldn’t expect to see an increase in the price of a margarita or other lime-added food or drink at restaurants. Most restaurant owners are swallowing the cost since the price surge is not expected to last, Annika Stensson, spokeswoman for the National Restaurant Association told USA Today.
However, it’s unclear when exactly Americans should expect lime shortage to end. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to think lime lovers and lime-dependent businesses are hoping for a Cinco de Mayo miracle.