What’s the Matter with Mexico’s Margaritas?
They are small, green and Mexico’s staple fruit, but they are also rising steadily in price.
Mexico’s lime prices are soaring upwards of 50% each month this year, and it is taking a devastating toll on the Mexican working class. The prices are currently at an all-time high.
What is the cause of the hyperinflation? Limes have always been the most dependable fruit to sell in Mexico, so what are the reasons behind this sudden disruption?
Tax reform has caused a spike in inflation this year, and products such as sodas, junk foods and now limes are all incredibly expensive.
Limes were added to the list of pricey groceries after a disease struck the citrus fruits in Colima, Mexico. The disease is called “huanglongbing” (or “citrus greening disease”) and it infects fruit by way of tiny insects that infect both the tree and the fruit. The trees are left producing bitter, hardened limes until it ultimately dies.
Climate change is also to blame. “With the arrival of winter there has been a cold snap in nearby states,” stated Juan Leana Malpica, a Morelos state lime grower. The fruit do not taste as fresh; the quality of the Mexican limes is suffering.
A bartender from Mexico City, Manuel Ambrosio, states that because of the lack of limes he is unable to give his customers the same sized portion margaritas as before. Customers are upset that the quality of the fruit has gotten worse and Ambrosio’s business is declining because of it.
Margarita sales are down 30% because of the poor lime conditions and Ambrosio stated that “this is the worst [he’s] seen prices in four years.”
A safe fix is hard to find though. The violent outbreaks in Michoacan make the importation of limes difficult for growers because they do not want to risk putting their products on the roads. Vigilante groups are destroying dangerous drug cartels, and the threat of having lime growers’ livelihood intercepted is too high and too much of a hazard.
The United States is concerned about the risk of imported limes bringing in disease. Some importation services have been limited, including airlines, and this is also bringing up costs in Mexico.
Mexico is attempting to squelch this problem by cutting off infected lime tree branches and using nitrogen in October 2014 to make the trees flower “in February, March and April” of 2015. Rafael Abriz Cervantes of the Agriculture Ministry also mentioned that technology is being tested in hopes that it will help remedy the situation and bring back their staple fruit.
– Becka Felcon