In this installment of the ‘Agronometrics In Charts’ series, Sarah Ilyas studies the state of the Mexican lime market. 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.
The majority of Mexican limes produced in Mexico come from the states of Guerrero, Colima, Oaxaca, Michoacán, Jalisco, Tabasco and Veracruz. The two popular varieties of limes grown in Mexico are the Mexican or Key lime and the Persian lime.
The state of Michoacán is the leading Key lime producer in Mexico, followed by Colima and Oaxaca. Michoacán has a winter production window (December to February) that allows key limes to enter the domestic market first. Persian limes are grown in northern Veracruz, with smaller scale production in Chiapas, Tabasco, Oaxaca, Puebla, Jalisco, and Yucatan.
Persian lime production in Mexico caters specifically to the US market; a substantial increase in production has been attributed to the North American Free Trade Agreement. Lime production in Mexico has also expanded as a consequence to the increase in its per capita consumption in the United States.
This season, a lack of rain and higher temperatures are affecting supplies of Mexican limes.
Growing regions such as Sinaloa and Jalisco typically begin harvesting in June or July. This year, however, those harvests are expected to be pushed back to August and lower volumes are expected.
Most of the growing regions have had insufficient rainfall since the past three months, this coupled with the high recorded temperatures is likely to lead to lower volumes. According to estimates, all sizes this season will be expensive in comparison to prior years, going from $20 to $40 FOB Texas.
Earlier during the year, aggressive price fixing led by criminal groups allegedly led to soaring prices and affected the availability of Mexican Limes in the U.S.
According to the USDA, Mexico is the world’s second-largest producer of limes, and it is the second largest produced citrus crop in Mexico after oranges. The Post forecast for FY 2021/22 (November-October) planted area is 221,918 ha, with harvested area forecasted at 196,768 ha.
Limes in Mexico are harvested throughout the year, with peak levels obtained between May and October. Lime supplies are typically more resilient than other citrus due to widespread production (28 states), more robust irrigation infrastructure, and newly planted trees.
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.
Written by: Sarah Ilyas