Retailers are being left with a bitter taste in their mouths following a surge in the price of limes, which is harming
bottom lines and promotions.
Heavy rains in Mexico, the world’s largest lime producer, combined with a crop disease and crime by one of the country’s drugs cartels, are contributing to a significant supply shortage and subsequent price rise.
Farmers in the lime growing region of Michoacan in Mexico are reporting that cartel members are raiding their groves and hijacking delivery trucks, forcing many growers to halt supplies altogether.
While importers are now turning to Colombia to supplement the supply of limes, the shortage is still prompting prices to skyrocket.
Sandy MacArthur, director of fruit wholesaler The Lemon Tree Produce, told Convenience Store that the wholesale price of limes had risen from £8 for 50 limes to more than £16 in the past couple of months.
Simply Fresh director Kash Khera said market prices had “rocketed in the past month” from £6 to £16 per box of 40s.
“This is causing real problems in store as a number of our sites were running a promotion on free limes with a Corona beer and have been forced to stop it,” he said.
Nisa retailer Rav Garcha said he didn’t know how much longer he could maintain his ‘four limes for £1’ offer in the face of soaring prices.
“The wholesale price of limes has almost doubled in recent weeks. At the moment I’m absorbing the increase as the offer is very popular with our customers and we sell through boxes of them a week, but it’s getting difficult,” he said.
In Ascot, Berkshire, Roli Ranger is passing a fraction of the cost increase on to shoppers after the wholesale price of limes shot up by more than 30% since April.
“Limes are a huge seller, especially at this time of year when people buy them to put in their drinks, salads and summer puddings. We’ve had to pass some of the increase on, but not all of it as we wouldn’t want to put shoppers off,” he said.
The price of lemons had also rocketed in recent weeks as a gap between the old and new seasons affected supplies.