The Washington Post, 5/5/14
It’s been a tough spring for Cinco de Mayo fans and the bars that keep them plied with tart margaritas, as the Great Lime Shortage of 2014 has been threatening to break up the party. Cocktail prices spiked, bars passed off lemons as substitutes, and a 40-pound carton of limes shot past $100 in the United States, four times the normal price.
Nearly all the limes thumbed into Corona bottles come from Mexico, amounting to a half million tons of U.S. imports. And there have been many theories about what caused the unusual prices, including that the cost of extortion by drug cartels in the lime-growing state of Michoacan was being passed on to customers north of the border.
But Mexican lime growers attribute the high prices to something more mundane: bad weather. Unusually heavy rains last winter led to an outbreak of a fungus that destroyed many lime trees and reduced the national supply. “It’s climate change,” said Enrique Saavedra, director general of B&S Grupo Exportador, a lime supplier in Veracruz, the Mexican state sending the most limes to the United States. “People speculate that it had something to do with security in Michoacan, but it wasn’t that.”