Supplies of imported limes from Mexico are looking slimmer right now.
“The overall supply of limes has tightened after hitting record-breaking crossings in mid-June. And it’s especially tight for bright green color fruit, which many North American consumers perceive as quality,” says Nico Giraldo, Category Director for Limes for Wonderful Citrus based in Delano, Ca.
Giraldo adds that crossings of limes into the U.S. are currently about 15 percent lower than the weekly average for this time of the year. “It’s not necessarily because harvested volumes are lower, but because fresh utilization is lower,” says Giraldo. “The supplies are coming from all producing areas of Mexico that are active right now but they’re all struggling to produce good quality green fruit.”
He notes that May was an extremely dry month in most growing areas and that the fruit that was developing at that moment under drought stress is what is currently being harvested. “So, this fruit is more ripe than normal for this time of the year which means yellower in color and with thin skin, making it very susceptible to defects,” he says. “Some growing areas are showing good green fruit but it’s still too small to harvest.”
Pricing pushing back up?
Demand for the fruit is coming mainly from the U.S. but Europe is also still pushing for fruit. The juice markets are also playing a very active role in price setting for raw fruit at the source, adds Giraldo. Because of those excessive crossings that happened in the middle of June, prices in the U.S. were significantly lower than the previous year. “But they have started to catch up and are levelling with the last two-year averages for this time of the year,” says Giraldo, adding that the end of summer will provide a good opportunity for in-store display and cross promotions.
Looking ahead, Giraldo says prices will continue to increase, which follows the seasonal trend for this time of year. “Quality control is our biggest focus, as we work to filter out defects,” says Giraldo. “The majority of Mexico is ending a crop cycle. The fruit is mature with high juice content but has thin and yellow skin that’s very susceptible to humidity related defects such as oil spots once the rains return to growing regions,” he says, adding that that also brings on the potential for stylar end rot.