Craving a pre-Cinco de Mayo margarita or homemade guacamole? You might have trouble finding a key ingredient: limes. Or if you're dining out, you might be have to drop extra green to pay for the now-hard-to-come-by green fruit.
A lime shortage has been sweeping the nation since late March, making the once cheap citrus a pricey purchase. One prominent restaurant in San Antonio, TX, is spending nearly $100 for a case of limes that last year would have cost them $14, according to DailyFinance.com.
It all started when bad weather, including cold temps and heavy rains, affected production in Mexico, which is where the U.S. gets about 95 to 98 percent of its limes (who knew?). Then there was an outbreak of a bacterium that infected lime trees, which also hurt the crops, both in Mexico and Florida. While California also grows limes, its 400 acres dedicated to the fruit is only enough to supply local markets.
Making matters worse are the local Mexican cartel members who started hijacking shipments of the remaining fruits en route for export. They're capitalizing on a dire situation by selling the stolen goods—calling them “oro verde,” which is Spanish for "green gold"—like crack cocaine to the highest bidder. Not even Breaking Bad writers could have squeezed out a more bizarre plotline.
Prices may remain high—as much as $1.50 a lime opposed to the usual $0.21 per fruit—for a few more months as farmers wait for the spring harvest. In the meantime, lemons are often used as a lime substitute...but that doesn't always work. Cinco de Mayo may not taste quite the same this year!