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Limes from Colombia and Peru are making inroads into the USA

The lime market is in a bit of a lull right now. Fruit in Mexico, North America’s primary lime sourcing country, suffered from high temperatures and drought during bloom about three months ago. “As a result, we’re seeing a hiatus in supply that causes relatively high FOB pricing,” says Ronnie Cohen with Vision Global Group. Recently, lime prices ranged between $40 to $50 per box and they are expected to go higher in the next two to three weeks if demand dictates.

“I am not sure how pricing will develop, but it may go even higher based on current information we have been receiving,” he said. While these numbers are pretty steep, they are nowhere near last year’s levels, let alone historic levels. “In 2014, pricing went up to $125/box and last year, limes were at $70 - $80/box for a while, so nothing would be surprising.”

Demand cycle is off
Although pricing is reflective of lower supplies, the demand cycle seems to be off this season. “The economics of the US and the world are different,” commented Cohen. “Normally, when product is short, demand gets crazy. However, we’re not seeing that this time around. People seem to be much more careful with their purchases.”

While Mexico supplies about 97 to 98 percent of limes in the US, Colombia and Peru are two growing markets that are able to help fill supply gaps. Their production is year-round, but Vision Import Group only brings in limes from Colombia and Peru when it’s cost effective. “If pricing on Mexican limes is relatively low, it’s not economical to bring in limes from South America.” Nevertheless, both countries are making inroads into the US.

“We bring in steady volumes throughout the year as the lime programs from both countries help support different regions and different retailers in the country,” said Cohen. Mexican limes cross the US border in Texas, quite a distance from the east coast. “Colombian product arrives on both coasts and closer proximity to the Southeast and Northwest allow us to introduce Colombian limes to retailers in these parts of the country.”

In Mexico, the lion share of limes are grown in Veracruz, but limes are commercially available in almost all Mexican states. In Colombia on the other hand, some areas have more supplies than others, depending on the weather. Peruvian limes grow in arid, dry production areas and these limes have less dark green to almost a pale external color. “In our industry, we are talking about educating consumers on the different lime colors, but one thing is certain: never judge a lime by its color, it’s the flavor and juice that is most important.”

Joint venture
In October of 2022, Vision Import Group and William H. Kopke announced they entered into a joint venture, known as Vision Global Group LLC. This new joint venture brings an expanded, consistent and reliable supply of products with Kopke being the controlling member. As a current shipper of imported clementines, navels and lemons, the JV allows Kopke to add a 12-month imported Mexican and Colombian lime program to its offering. In addition, Vision’s year-round mango business from Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Mexico will complement Kopke’s strategy to supply new products that integrate with the current commodity basket.

For more information:
Ronnie Cohen
Vision Global Group, LLC
Tel: (+1) 917-930-7178           

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