Agronometrics in Charts: Reduced Mexican Lime Output Driving up Costs in the US Market

By Agronometrics | 30 March 2023

In this installment of the ‘Agronometrics In Charts’ series, Sarah Ilyas studies the state of the Mexican lime industry. Each week the series looks at a different horticultural commodity, focusing on a specific origin or topic visualizing the market factors that are driving change.

According to the Citrus Annual Report published by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service,   total citrus production in Mexico across oranges, lemons/limes, and grapefruit is expected to decline in market year (MY) 2022/23 due to challenges such as damage to trees from increasingly severe weather conditions over multiple seasons, particularly in Northeastern producing states, and the rising costs of inputs and logistics for producers that is putting downward pressure on yields. According to the report, production forecasts for Marketing Year 2022/23 are pegged at 2.8 MMT, 7 percent lower than the previous MY.

lime volumes by history 1

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

“We’re seeing a hiatus in supply that causes relatively high FOB pricing,” says Ronnie Cohen with Vision Global Group. Week 12 saw pricing at $51.42 per package; prices are expected to climb higher in the next two to three weeks if demand dictates. While current pricing is quite steep, it does not compare to last year’s levels, which peaked at $74.93 per package in week 13 of 2022.

lime prices by history a

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Although Mexico continues to occupy almost 90 % of the market share, lime shipments from Colombia and Peru are increasing in frequency. “Colombia is playing a big part in supplying limes right now. It used to just supply in our winter months, January to March, but they’ve been coming with limes weekly,” says Eddie Caram of New Limeco. The majority of limes cultivated in Mexico are produced in Veracruz, however limes are commercially accessible in nearly all Mexican states.

Peruvian limes grow in arid, dry production areas and these limes have less dark green to almost a pale external color. Mexico is now into those new crop limes now. “It’s the dark green limes and there’s low humidity so there weren’t as many stylars for example. It’s much better weather for picking and the quality improves with that. From now until April it’s the greener looking limes that are more uniform and last a little longer because it’s a new crop,” says Caram.

lime volumes by origin i

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

lime volumes by origin i 1

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Currently, the primary supplying regions for limes in Mexico are in the south of country from Tabasco, Oaxaca, and Veracruz though Merida, Jalisco and Sinaloa are also producing. “Volume is low in the producing areas. Compared to last year overall, there’s a decrease in quality and volume,” says Hassan, noting there are largely 250s, 230s and 200s available in March. April looks to have similar production notes to March. “The growers want more prices and if prices go down, they hold the fruit until they get the prices they want. Since they leave the fruit hanging on the tree though, we are also not seeing bad quality fruit,” says Hassan of Empire Traders Inc.

In our ‘In Charts’ series, we work to tell some of the stories that are moving the industry. Feel free to take a look at the other articles by clicking here.

All pricing for domestic US produce represents the spot market at Shipping Point (i.e. packing house/climate controlled warehouse, etc.). For imported fruit, the pricing data represents the spot market at Port of Entry.

You can keep track of the markets daily through Agronometrics, a data visualization tool built to help the industry make sense of the huge amounts of data that professionals need to access to make informed decisions. If you found the information and the charts from this article useful, feel free to visit us at where you can easily access these same graphs, or explore the other 21 commodities we currently track.

Written by: Sarah Ilyas

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