Ration that guacamole: We’ve got a major lime shortage on our hands

Heavy rains and an infectious disease spell bad news for Mexico's citrus crop

Topics: limes, citrus greening disease, Agriculture, Mexico, Extreme weather, ,

When Chipotle, in its annual report, cited climate change as a potential threat to its guacamole, it was referring to the possibility of long-term changes in weather patters causing the price of avocados to rise. But another guac ingredient is already feeling the squeeze: Thanks to a combination of environmental factors, lime prices in the U.S. have more than doubled, up to 53 cents from 21 cents at the same time last year. It’s a problem for bartenders, too — in Southern California, the price per case o’ limes has soared to $100, up from $24.

According to NPR, about 98 percent of the limes consumed in the U.S. come from Mexico, and heavy rains late last year in a number of states had a major impact on production. As Kristy Plattner, a citrus analyst at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, explained to U-T San Diego, rain during the dry season can delay harvests; it also causes rot and fungal disease.

A bacterium infecting trees in Colima, a major lime-producing state, is also to blame. Huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening disease, is spread by a small winged insect and is considered to be the world’s most devastating citrus disease — it’s a serious issue for the citrus industries in California and Florida as well. Once infected, trees die within five years, and no known cure exists.



Raul Millan of New Jersey-based Vision Import Group told NPR that organized crime in Mexico is targeting trucks loaded with the increasingly valuable fruit. Fortunately, Mexico’s Agriculture Ministry said, production should pick up by the second half of April. Until then, people are going to have to get creative. One solution: In Orange County, Calif., restaurant owner Mario Marovic is rewarding customers who bring in a bag of limes from their backyard trees with a 25 cent margarita.

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 17
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    John Stanmeyer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.

    Lu Guang

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China

    Carolyn Cole/LATimes

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

    Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    “Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA

    Google Earth/NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.

    Garth Lentz

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada

    Cotton Coulson/Keenpress

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway

    Yann Arthus-Bertrand

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.

    Stephanie Sinclair

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.

    Mike Hedge

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million

    Google Earth/ 2014 Digital Globe

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.

    Daniel Dancer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

    Peter Essick

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.

    Daniel Beltra

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico

    Ian Wylie

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Slide 13

    Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.

    R.J. Sangosti/Denver Post

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...