Reports: Industry Comments on Tight Lime Market; Joshua Barragan, Paul Catania, and Matt Catania Detail
MEXICO AND UNITED STATES - Keeping our eyes on category pricing is par for the course for the writers at ANUK. Recently, elevated prices on limes piqued our curiosity. With the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reporting prices of $56–$60 on a 40 lb carton of 110s or 150s and $60–$64 on a 40 lb carton of 175s or 200s, we turned to members of the industry to confirm.
“The market is currently tight on demand for Persian limes,” Joshua Barragan, Sales Representative for Limoneira, explained to me. “The current pricing we’re seeing is in the high $50’s and low $60’s. There is not much fruit on the trees to pick in the Yucatán, Mexico, region. This was due to some big rains that happened back in late August during Hurricane Grace, which knocked off much of the flowers. Mexican growers are still dealing with weather issues, such as a rain and cold front this week. I think prices will remain high for at least the remainder of the month.”
I also touched base with Paul Catania, President of Catania Worldwide, who clued me in to other factors affecting lime pricing.
Paul also echoed the industry feeling the effects of past storms, which wiped out a significant portion of bloom that would have come to harvest by January and February.
“Another factor that really compounded things this year was a spray program that was intended to keep insects off the fruit, but ended up killing a large portion of the crop,” he commented. “All those Key limes that would normally go to the national market are gone. Freight is also a factor, as we’re seeing freight rising dramatically, and in some cases, it has doubled. That certainly adds to an already difficult situation.”
Matt Catania, Paul’s son and Catania Worldwide’s Sales Manager, hopped on the phone to detail another issue driving up price.
“Because of COVID and the log-jam at the ports on the East Coast and in Florida, the off-shore fruit from Colombia, Guatemala, and Peru have not been able to come over in the same volumes as they normally do. Fewer shipping containers are available, and once they get to the U.S., they clog up at the ports, so they’re not getting into the markets as quickly. Typically, when the off-shore limes come into the market, it drives the Mexican pricing back down. That will happen, but we haven’t yet seen it during this pricing rise,” Matt noted.
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