Increase in Lime Prices Puts a Squeeze on The Market

By Linda Ong |

Published 04/30 2014 07:29PM

Updated 04/30 2014 07:32PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A shortage of limes is putting a squeeze on the market for the tangy green fruit.

"I've seen a tremendous price increase over the past couple of months," said Robert Evans, Owner of Trolley's Park Central Pub in downtown Springfield. "At times, you can't even find limes."

A poor harvest, an infestation, and unstable conditions in Mexico have led to the steep rise in the price of limes. As a result, demand is outgrowing supply for the fruit across the nation, including here in the Ozarks.

Margaritas are one of the most popular drinks at Trolley's. However, a nationwide increase in the price of the tangy fruit leaves a sour taste for Evans.

"It's too high," he said.

Restaurant and bar owners, like Evans, often buy limes by the crate.

"Forty limes-- typically it used to run like $13," he said. "Now it's upwards $45 to $50."

The short supply and high costs of limes have trickled down to your local grocery store. According to the Price Cutter on E. Division in Springfield, a dollar could buy you six limes this past December, but now, for the same price, you can only get one.

The price of limes at the Price Cutter hit an all time high last week-- at $1.49 a pop.

Many are getting creative-- substituting lemon juice for lime, while others are taking out the fruit altogether.

Evans has a new strategy for his business' lime supply.

"We just buy them as we need them now," he said. "We stopped buying them from the food purveyor and just buy a few at the store right now so we can try to minimize the cost so we don't have to pass it along to the customer."

Even garnishing with limes, now has become a novelty.

"We'll probably make it request only as a garnish on our drinks," said Evans. "But other than that, we're not going to increase the cost of it."

More than 90-percent of the limes consumed in the United States come from Mexico.

Experts expect prices to stabilize in about four to five months, near the end of the lime season.

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