Mexico takes over dwindling U.S. lime business

01/19/2012 04:57:00 PM
Jim Offner

After hurricanes blew the domestic lime industry out of the U.S. in the early 1990s, Mexico took over the business. It won’t be coming back, citrus marketers and growers say.

“The reality is, we import more limes through Texas, in the area of 22 million a year,” said John McClung, president of the Texas Produce Association, Mission.

“Good limes used to be grown quite extensively in both California and Florida. I don’t think there’s 100 acres of limes left in Florida, and California has a kind of very slow organic urban stock lime industry. It has become something that can be produced dependably in Mexico.”

More consumers appear to be eating limes these days.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, per-capita consumption of fresh limes increased from nearly 1 pound per person in 1989 to 2.5 pounds in 2009.

Only the most tropical of U.S. climates were amenable to lime production, anyway, so the likelihood that domestic production will come back is nil, said David Krause, president of Delano, Calif.-based Paramount Citrus Association Inc.

“Limes are a very tropical product by nature, and there are just very few locations in the U.S. that would be frost-free to produce a lime of good quality,” he said.

“Our supply comes from Mexico. That’s just where they grow it.”

Paramount, in fact, is looking for more lime acreage in southern Mexico, Krause said.

Limes are a key product out of Mexico, said Tom Wollenman, general manager of Lindsay, Calif.-based LoBue Bros.

“There’s a little bit around San Diego and maybe a little around Florida, but one of the larger citrus entities has purchased large lime holdings in Mexico, and that’s the way that’s working,” he said.



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doug fox    
Orangewalk Belize  |  February, 08, 2012 at 06:42 PM

Limes do well in Belize exporter to US and canadian markets needs a working partner

Calvin Clary    
Dallas. Texas  |  May, 04, 2012 at 10:24 AM

We are interested in brokering for you in the texas and southern markets over to Florida. Do you have products ready to ship to these locales? Please reply and thank you for your consideration

a person    
usa  |  April, 07, 2012 at 03:34 PM

ok so what about the arsenic in the oj from other countries? I am assuming we import lime juice as well...I dont like the idea of being 100% reliant on another country for any one product.

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