Soaring lime prices have some restauranteurs scrambling to adjust.
If you have recently been to the supermarket, you might have noticed that lime prices have recently skyrocketed. According to a recent NPR report, a 40-pound case of limes that normally goes for about $25-$30 a case has climbed to $115 per case. A bad harvest in Mexico this year, due to poor rainfall and disease, is partially to blame for the higher prices.
The same NPR reports also cites that Mexican drug cartels could be a culprit in the inflated prices as well. Cartels have been extorting lime farmers and hijacking lime crops due to their increased value. The value of limes have become so high that the citrus fruit has now become known as “green gold” to some in the industry.
So, how exactly are the higher lime prices affecting your local restaurant?
For some Mexican restaurants where limes are used liberally in cocktails and guacamole, the inflated prices of the citrus could be the most crippling.
A CBS report found that some restaurants are no longer garnishing food and drinks with limes, choosing to stay conservative with lime usage. Popular beers like Corona, traditionally served with a lime wedge, may no longer be served with the citrus fruit.
And some cocktails drinks that require heavy amounts of fresh-squeezed lime juice, like the gimlet, may be taken temporarily off the cocktail menu until prices subside.
Some restaurants have no choice but to continue to use fresh limes in drinks like the margarita, where there is no apt substitute for the taste of fresh-squeezed lime juice. And for now, according to a Zagat report, most restaurants haven’t raised prices on popular items like the margarita just yet, electing to take the profit hit instead instead of passing on escalating prices to customers.
For restaurants and lime lovers, there could be a silver lining ahead. David Karp recently speculated in The New York Times that the lime shortage could be only temporary, citing that as the younger lime crop matures, prices should settle back down by summertime.