Lemons and limes may not be as trendy as tangerines right now, but they are having their own little moment of glory.
Interest from the restaurant market continues to grow, which can trickle down into retail sales.
“I think one of the things that is happening is that more and more limes are being infused into drink recipes,” said Scott Owens, vice president of sales and trade marketing for Paramount Citrus, Los Angeles.
In fact, Owens said lemons and limes have potential for growth.
“Part of the growth of the lemon category is from the trend for healthy lifestyles,” Owens said.
It’s a trend he this will continue. People have started to use lemons more often as a healthy seasoning for meats and vegetables.
However, he sees limes as the real area of opportunity.
“I think the lime category is a sleeping giant,” he said.
One problem with limes has been the inconsistent quality of supply through the industry, something Paramount is working to improve by building the integrity of the lime supply chain.
In addition, a growing Hispanic market has added considerable demand for limes, which are used in many traditional recipes.
Owens said that whether increased demand is coming from healthy eating trends, a diversification of the U.S. population or simply because of gourmet flavoring trends, the category is likely to grow.
“I think lime and lemon sales will both grow in the future,” he said.
More specialty varieties are also helping to grow the category. For limes, World Variety Produce, Los Angeles, which markets under the Melissa’s label, has seen success for its finger limes, according to Robert Schueller, director of public relations.
“The finger limes are popular in high end restaurants and often used in signature cocktails,” he said.
Meyer lemons are also trendy right now.
“Their juice is sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons, and they have a thin, smooth rind that is bright in color. Their sweeter taste makes meyer lemons a culinary favorite,” said Joan Wickham, manager of advertising and public relations of Sunkist Growers, Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Seedless lemons are also bringing a bit of revival to the category, according to grower-shippers.
“The seedless lemon is a new phenomenon from foodservice. Right now we’re limited to what’s been planted, but we’re hearing more and more growers starting to approach a seedless lemon program. We see that a trend for the future,” Owens said.