WICHITA, Kan. -- More margaritas are sold on Cinco de Mayo than any other day of the year. But a key ingredient for those drinks and Mexican dishes is in short supply. There is a lime shortage.
The produce manager for Leekers Family Foods in Valley Center, Gene Scheuerman, says he used to order limes that came 110 to a box. Now he gets 36 to 48 in a box for the same price or more. "A lot of it's gone up two to three times higher", Scheuerman said. "We used to sell four for a dollar. Now we sell them for 89-cents a piece."
Over 90% of the limes sold in the U.S. come from Mexico. Bad weather, a tree disease, even drug cartels that control the part of Mexico where limes are grown may all have played a factor in the shortage.
Restaurants are facing the same problem. Cinco de Mayo is a big day for Carlos O'Kelly's restaurants. Company president Jon Rolph said they've seen the price of limes by the case shoot from $13 to $130 in three months.
Rolph says the restaurant chain is holding the line on customer pricing while not cutting back on limes in recipes and drink mixes. "The only place that we've cut back is where it's used as a garnish, something to make the plate look a little prettier", said Rolph. "And if someone wants to incorporate it into their dish they're available upon request at no additional charge."
Rolph said restaurants have to deal with shortages from time to time. He said it's the first time he's seen a shortage of limes. Rolph said eventually the supply will increase and prices should come down.