Lime shortage puts the squeeze on local restaurants - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Lime shortage puts the squeeze on local restaurants

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OLD TOWN (CBS 8) - Skyrocketing lime prices are putting the squeeze on consumers and many Mexican restaurants in Old Town for Cinco de Mayo.

"This is the worse that it's ever been,” said owner and operator of Casa Guadalajara, Diane Powers.

The lime shortage is raising prices at some grocery stores. One pound of limes, which had about 10 in a bag cost $3.99 and some are $0.79 to a $1.00 each.

For chefs, they are feeling the squeeze.

"These are Mahi Mahi fish tacos and you have to have a lime. You can't go without a lime,” said Jose Pulido, executive chef at Case de Reyes.

Limes are pricey. Pulido says it takes a case of limes to make a batch of shrimp ceviche. Each case has 175 limes, costing about $100. Pulido says it used to cost $23 a case.

"It takes 175 limes to make 15 pounds of shrimp,” said Pulido.

At Casa Guadalajara, limes are a staple on the menu and the owner is noticing the high prices in markets and vendors.

"It keeps changing day by day,” said Powers.

A combination of unusually cold temperatures and a citrus disease devastated this year’s lime crops.

Many Mexican lime growers are also afraid of tending their crops or transporting their fruit for fear of being kidnapped or extorted by drug cartels.

"Everyone is feeling this,” said Powers.

Some restaurants are cutting smaller slices or substituting limes for another citrus or juice. However, in Old Town many restaurants are keeping limes on the plates but could eventually change prices.

"I think all of us will have to increase prices everywhere,” said Powers.

Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill stopped adding limes to its fish tacos but you can still get them at their condiment bar.

The quality of limes is not as good, lime sizes are small, forcing chefs to use more for a full taste.

Prices are expected to do down next month.
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