Why Are Limes So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
Limes are a citrus fruit that comes packed full of nutrients and vitamins.
While some people might eat limes on their own, others use them in drinks or pies.
Despite the popularity of limes, you may discover that buying them is quite expensive.
Why Are Limes So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
A carton of limes used to cost around $32.
These days though, a 40-pound carton of limes costs around $72.
Certain factors like cold temperatures and cartels in Mexico are affecting the price of limes.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Cold Temperatures In Mexico
One of the biggest reasons behind the increase in lime prices is the cold temperatures affecting Mexico.
Over the past few winters, Mexico has experienced temperatures that are colder than normal.
The freezing temperatures have impacted the ability of the limes to grow.
That’s because the specific limes that come out of Mexico don’t grow well in freezing temperatures.
They prefer subtropical climates.
Normally, Mexico has a great climate for growing limes.
The warm temperatures allow the lime to grow to its normal, green, self.
Due to temperatures dropping, however, limes have been struggling to grow in the country.
The cold temperatures impede the growth of the lime.
As a result, the limes either come out looking yellow or are misshapen.
Neither of those is great for human consumption since they also don’t have the typical lime flavor.
They don’t become ripe.
As a result, Mexican farmers end up losing a lot of money on their lime orchards.
They’re unable to do anything about the freezing temperatures either.
They just have to hope that they can grow and harvest the limes before the freezing temperatures damage them.
Since freezing temperatures are likely a symptom of climate change, there’s a good chance that Mexico will continue to experience cooler temperatures.
As such, growing limes in Mexico might become more and more difficult.
Limes are expensive because cold temperatures in Mexico are affecting the supply.
Another major factor impacting the price of limes is crime.
While the crime in Mexico used to be primarily involved with drugs, there are many that have set their sights on a new type of gold.
Many are now trying to take control over “green gold.”
That covers the production and sale of limes and avocados.
Farmers looking to protect their farms have to pay mercenaries or security forces.
Those costs cut into their business, too.
As a result, they need to sell their limes at higher prices.
Other farmers have decided to abandon their farms.
The violence and stress aren’t worth it.
That also impacts the price of limes since it means there are even fewer producers in Mexico.
3. Citrus Diseases
Since limes are citrus fruit, they’re vulnerable to all citrus diseases.
Limes are also prone to sunburn.
While they prefer direct sunlight and long hours of it, if the sun is too powerful, it can damage the tree.
You can notice if a lime tree is suffering from sunburn by looking at its bark.
An afflicted lime tree will have bark that looks as though it’s peeling away from the tree.
To protect their trees from too much sunlight, farmers will cover the bark with a tree cover.
Since most lime farmers have large orchards, that means they’re going to need to buy a lot of tree covers.
That cuts into their profits.
Lime trees are also vulnerable to certain types of citrus diseases.
One common disease that affects lime trees is black sooty mold.
This type of mold grows on trees that become infested with aphids.
Aphids are tiny bugs that release a substance called honeydew.
They live in the tree for protection and food.
The aphids, themselves, don’t harm the tree, but black mold uses honeydew as a food source.
The more aphids that a tree has, the more honeydew the black mold has to feast on.
The black mold starts to spread across the tree and becomes a powdery substance on the leaves and fruit.
It can ruin a tree if left untreated.
Brown fruit rot and stylar end rot are two diseases that also afflict limes.
They make brown, rotten, spots on fruit that can spread throughout it.
It’s also very contagious.
If a diseased lime gets put in with a healthy lime, then the disease will quickly spread through them.
Several other diseases affect limes.
As such, farmers spend a good amount of money to protect their limes from disease.
Those costs get added to their operational costs which they offset with high prices.
Another reason limes are expensive is that certain areas in Mexico are experiencing a drought.
The drought is so bad that some communities have gone without running water for a week or longer.
To help combat the drought, the Mexican government has been sending rationed water trucks to communities in need.
Those trucks can only carry so much water, so, inevitably, some people go home without getting anything.
Violence is also common.
Fights break out when people are unable to get enough water.
Some water delivery drivers have even faced threats of kidnapping if they didn’t take their trucks to a different community to give water.
Besides the drought making people in Mexico suffer, it’s also affecting lime farmers.
Some lime farmers are also having a problem with getting enough water to nourish their limes.
Limes need a decent amount of water.
Without it, the tree won’t grow and flourish.
The limes may not be as large as they should be or may even become misshapen.
When they don’t grow to their potential, farmers can’t always sell them.
That means they have smaller yields of limes.
Since there’s a smaller supply of limes, the price for them increases.
While the government is giving free water, farmers are also likely buying water elsewhere to reach their quotas.
Since they’re buying water, which is also expensive, that adds to the cost of growing limes.
Besides increasing prices due to a shortage of limes, farmers also have to offset the cost of water.
Limes are expensive because of a drought impacting Mexico.
5. Poor Climate In America To Grow Limes
Another factor that’s impacting the price of limes is the fact that lime production isn’t high in the United States.
While there are a few lime growers in South California and Florida, they only produce certain types of limes or not many at all.
Florida, for example, primarily grows oranges.
California grows oranges, too.
As such, there isn’t a lot of room to grow limes.
The climate in the United States is also poor for growing the particular species of lime that grows in Mexico.
Florida’s lime, the key lime, comes from the Florida Keys and in southern ports of the state.
Because the United States can’t grow limes well, they’re dependent on Mexico for limes.
Limes are a popular fruit in the United States.
People in the US like the juice in their drinks, and they like limes in their tacos.
Since limes are an ingredient, it means the United States imports a lot of them.
That means they’re stuck paying import fees and other taxes that Mexico might put on their limes.
Buying domestic limes is cheaper since you don’t have to pay as much shipping or import fees.
However, since the United States doesn’t have the right climate in which to grow a large number of limes, they have no choice but to import the fruit from Mexico.
That means that if anything happens in Mexico, it’s going to affect the supply of limes in America.
America is, essentially, dependent on Mexico for limes.
6. Limited Growing Season In New Zealand And Australia
The supply of limes further becomes strained when Mexico is unable to produce a lot because other places in the world also have limited production.
New Zealand and Australia are two other places where they grow limes.
Both areas have the right climate.
However, they only have the right climate for a certain portion of the year.
New Zealand, for example, can only grow and harvest limes between March and September.
That’s all the time they have before the temperatures drop to unfavorable conditions.
As such, while they do produce some limes, they’re not going to be able to pick up the slack should anything happen in Mexico.
This further reduces the global supply of limes.
Things are happening in Mexico that impact the supply of limes.
Because of that, and because other countries aren’t able to fill that void with their own limes, the price of limes is increasing.
7. Mexican Water Treaty Of 1944
There’s also a historical reason that factors into the high prices of lime.
It all comes down to the water.
Both the United States and Mexico share the Rio Grande River.
To ensure both countries could use the source of water for their citizens, they made a treaty in 1944.
The treaty ensured that neither country would cut the other off from access to water.
It also required both countries to give water to each other in certain amounts.
That amount could also face reductions when the country was experiencing a drought.
Mexico is suffering from a drought.
The United States is also suffering from a drought.
This means that both countries are giving each other a reduced supply of water.
For Mexico, it means they have even less water to give to their citizens.
This makes water in Mexico very expensive.
Lime farmers who may have been able to have cheap prices due to the water treaty are no longer receiving an ample supply of water.
As such, they find themselves having to pay more for water.
Because the United States cannot give Mexico its usual amount of water, it’s only making the drought in Mexico worse.
That impacts the price of water which impacts lime farmers.
Limes are expensive because of the Mexico Water Treaty of 1944 and the United States’ inability to provide enough water to Mexico due to a drought.
8. Hurricanes Affecting Limes From Florida
While Mexico is the main producer of certain limes, they aren’t the only ones facing problems.
Nowadays, Florida produces a particular type of lime called the Persian lime.
They’re hardier which is ideal since the Florida Keys tend to experience a lot of hurricanes or tropical storms.
They used to grow the same limes produced in Mexico, but a terrible hurricane in 1926 completely devastated the crop.
Instead of trying to regrow the same limes, the farmers chose a different species of lime that had a better chance of survival.
These limes are expensive because farmers have to spend a lot of money on either protecting their limes from hurricanes or restoring their farms after a storm passes through.
It costs a lot of money to grow limes in an area where hurricanes and tropical storms often pass through.
Since it costs them more money, they charge higher prices for their limes as a result.
Limes are expensive if they come from the Florida Keys because of the expenses paid to protect them from hurricanes and tropical storms.
9. Seasonal Pricing
The time of year in which you buy limes also impacts their price.
While Mexico grows limes year-round, they’re mostly in season between March and August.
This is when the supply of limes is as large as it’s going to be.
Because the supply is plentiful, prices for limes are a bit cheaper.
If you buy a lime outside of their preferred seasons, however, then you’re going to face more expensive prices.
The supply of limes is smaller since it’s only coming from a few farmers in Mexico.
Because supply is low, the price of limes is going to be high.
Limes are expensive when you buy them out of season.
10. Large Demand
A final reason limes are expensive is that they’re in high demand.
Limes are a type of citrus fruit which means they have a decent supply of Vitamin C and other nutrients.
A lot of people add limes into their cooking to take advantage of those healthy nutrients.
Others use limes to make drinks taste better or to bring some zest to certain Mexican dishes.
Because there’s a lot of demand for limes, and not always a lot of supply, the price for limes increases.
Limes are expensive because several different industries all use limes.
Limes are a flavorful fruit that’s packed full of nutrients.
Whether it’s problems in Mexico, hurricanes in Florida, or other problems impacting the supply of limes, the price of limes becomes very expensive.