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Mexico lime supplies suffer double blow
The Veracruz lime growing region in Mexico has been affected by the recent cold weather. The exceptionally cold conditions last week have damaged trees, with reports that flowering buds and budding fruit has fallen off the trees.
"Cold temperatures have affected lime supplies out of Mexico," said Mario Cisneros, of Santis Produce. "Growers are telling us they have seen a lot of small fruit and flowers that have fallen off the trees. It has to do with the moisture combined with the cold temperatures, freezing the buds. The entire state of Veracruz has been affected, and it has not been confined to the higher elevations."
Cisneros also noted that this recent weather is just another chapter in the climate anomalies that have occurred in the lime growing regions of Mexico. "The climate has not been predictable in recent years," he said. "The seasons have been sporadic with rainfall at times we don't expect it and dry conditions when we expect rain. This recent cold weather is another example of the challenges growers are facing with the local climate."
Existing mature fruit is expected to be relatively unaffected, however, the lack of new fruit coming through will have an impact on the market in coming weeks. "Lime prices have been increasing and we are seeing high prices on all sizes of Persian and Key limes," Cisneros continued. "Prices are between $18 and $20 for large and small sizes, peaking on 175s and 200s at $22. We place importance on making sure the fruit is priced for movement."
Demand has been firm, and quality of the fruit that is coming out of Veracruz is good. "Demand is very high at the moment," Cisneros said "A lot of customers are looking for limes. Almost all of our limes are Persian limes out of Veracruz, as well as a small amount of Key limes. We no longer source our limes from Michoacán or Jalisco as we find the fruit from those regions to be of lower quality. They are not as green as from Veracruz."
Truck shortage also affecting lime growers
If weather issues have not been enough, lime suppliers are also facing truck shortages that are increasing costs. Many fresh produce items from Mexico are affected, especially as suppliers try to ship produce to markets across the United States.
"Freight has become a huge issue for suppliers," Cisneros observed. "It's almost impossible to find trucks as there are very few around. It has affected other products such as Honeydews also. We have contacts in trucking, so it has had less of an impact on our shipments. As a result, we try to help out other suppliers because everyone is having trouble and it's causing costs to rise sharply."
"Prices are astronomical," he continued. "I have a client in Chicago who was quoted $10,500 to bring one truckload of fruit from Texas to Chicago. Another in Fresno was quoted $12,000 from Texas to Fresno. There is a lot of demand for trucks in Mexico and it's adding to the issues we are having with the supply of limes."
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