Lime prices surprisingly softening going into March

From Fresh Plaza | 29 February 2024

Overview of limes from Mexico in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on February 29, 2024.

The supply of limes is steady coming into the U.S. from Mexico. “It looks to be about average for this time of year,” says Steven Leal with S&J Distributing. “What’s different is that usually in the lead-up to March, you see increases in pricing from mid to late February to early March. Typically the lime market in late March and the first half of April are historically the highest of the year. So it’s a very odd trend right now.”

Indeed, pricing is trending slightly down right now. “The only possible reasoning is we’re still dealing with the end of the month with potential budget impacts, etc. and so maybe it’s not resetting until the next month?” notes Leal.

As for the sizing of the fruit, some regions are producing larger counts of 110, 150 and 175 fruit while other areas coming in with fruit sized 230, 250 which is also indicating a bit of a “hill” on pricing.

Meanwhile demand so far in 2024 does seem a little lighter than in 2023. “There was an artificial spike in the market a few weeks ago, without an increased demand, and it seems like the demand hasn’t caught up,” Leal says.

A look at the historical pricing

He does think that next week will see some improved pricing, though it may not reach the historical price levels it usually does. “Usually it goes from a $20 market to a $40-$50 market in March and it may go up to $40 and stay there for a little bit,” he says. “I don’t see any reason why there would be any potential spikes over the next four to six weeks like in the past because the supply is present. Not just from Mexico but offshore fruit as well.”

lime prices by history a

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

Along with Mexico, fruit is coming from offshore sources such as Colombia and Peru. “Customer feedback on the East Coast is that Colombian fruit is making its way in and even though it may not be as strong a fruit as the Mexican lime, when there’s a $10-$14 difference, it’s close enough for some,” says Leal.

In all, the lime market continues to have an unusual year. “This is the first time going into March that the trajectory is going down and I don’t know if we’ve seen that in quite a long time. It’s going to be interesting to see how this month plays out considering March is usually the tightest supply and highest demand month price-wise and early signs are that that may not be the case this year,” says Leal.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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