Is the lime shortage ruining your Cinco de Mayo?

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- You may notice fewer limes at your favorite bar or restaurant when you go out to celebrate Cinco de Mayo on Monday.

The nation is in the midst of a lime shortage -- and therefore, a lime price hike -- this year. Part of the problem is due to severe weather and drought. Drug cartels are also contributing to the problem.

According to CNN Money, " Mexico is the world's largest exporter of limes, sourcing almost all of the limes the U.S. consumes."The Knights Templar, a splinter group of a drug cartel broken up in 2011 and based in the lime producing epicenter of Michoacán, has found moving drugs into the United States more difficult. So, the group decided to "diversify" business by targeting business owners involved in lime exports. According to CNN Money, the group has "demanded a certain percentage of orchard owners' lime shipments, threatening to burn down their farms, rape their daughters or kill their children."

The Mexican government has responded with a military presence and told the vigilante groups to stand down by May 10, according to CNN Money.

In the meantime, you may see prices of limes at the grocery store increasing. The Associated Press reported in April that the "average advertised price of a lime in U.S. supermarkets was 56 cents last week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's up from 37 cents the week ending March 28 and 31 cents a year ago."

Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, told USA TODAY consumers will still probably be able to find limes at the store even though stores may decrease the supply while increasing prices. One Giant Food grocery store in Alexandria, Va. was selling limes for 88 cents each. Before the shortage, the same store sold limes for 3 for $1.

Annika Stensson, spokeswoman for the National Restaurant Association, told USA TODAY that you probably won't see a price increase at restaurants due to the shortage but restaurants may make other adjustments. Changes include taking margaritas off happy hour menus, promoting flavored margaritas, scrapping limes as a garnish, or substituting lemons for limes. At one Mexican restaurant in Alexandria last week, we noticed limes were not used as garnish on plates and lemon slices were placed in margaritas instead of limes.

We want to know: How much does a lime cost where you live? Are you seeing any bars and restaurants making changes to their menus due to the shortage? Email us at


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment