Lime Prices Skyrocket Due to Weather, Drug Cartels

The second most important ingredient in your next margarita might just be missing.

The price of limes has risen approximately 500 percent in recent weeks — from around $20 for a case to more than $100 as of this week, according to a produce buyer for Hardie's Fruit and Vegetable Co. The Dallas-based produce distributor supplies limes for major chain restaurants like Red Lobster and Olive Garden.

"This is something we've never seen for any fruit or vegetable," said a buyer for Hardie's, who did not want to be identified.

There has already been a trickle-down effect for the consumer.

On Tuesday, San Antonio-based Tex-Mex chain Taco Cabana tweeted the following:

A check of four different Taco Cabana locations Wednesday — one each in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington and Irving — revealed that the policy is already in effect.

The primary culprit: the weather.

The majority of the limes consumed in Texas and the rest of the United States are grown in Mexico. Too much rain in the growing region of Michoacán this season has led to a reduced lime crop, according to multiple reports.

Additionally, a disease contributed to the shortage of limes, and according to the LA Times that same bug may be headed to California.

In addition to those shortages, Mexican drug cartels — including the Knights Templar — operate in the same growing region, making it difficult for lime growers to conduct their business, according to a report from NPR.

As for that lime in your margarita, it will still be there at Joe T. Garcia's in Fort Worth. But perhaps not for long.

"It just won't be on there automatically. You know if people request it we'll serve it," said owner Joe Lancarte. "I'm still gonna buy limes. I'm just not gonna put them on every single glass, probably, if it gets to that point."

Lancarte said he paid $2,200 for 20 cases of limes on Thursday. Those limes will last through the weekend, he said, and would have cost one-fifth of that amount just three weeks ago. 

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