Monday, June 11, 2007

Lime Demand Widens

Section:Shipping Profile;
Page Number:C3

Although it’s among the smallest of the citrus varieties, the demand for limes is expanding. Importers have taken notice with the focus on a year-round supply. The summer supply should easily meet demand.

Four Seasons Trading Co.

At Four Seasons Trading Co., Ephrata, Pa., the emphasis was widened to include freshness. Ken Mobley, the company’s general manager, said Four Seasons Trading has streamlined the shipping process to ensure freshness. “Because of the constant flow of fresh limes into Four Seasons Trading, our turnaround time from arrival to shipping is down to about two days, so we’re shipping very fresh limes to our customers.” Mobley said. The grower support the company receives in Mexico is a contributing factor. Mobley said the Mexico-grown, seedless Persian limes are very good quality. Because of that high quality, he said retailers gobble up 96% of the limes sold by Four Seasons Trading. Mobley said Four Seasons Trading offers limes in place packs, bulk packaging and bags. The company also imports a limited supply of key limes at customers’ requests, he said. The demand for limes prompted Four Seasons Trading to make certain it could provide them throughout the year.

Brooks Tropicals

That’s also the approach at Brooks Tropicals Inc., Homestead, Fla., but it took some doing. At one point in the 1990s, Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for Brooks Tropicals, said the company’s primary source of limes was Florida, which produced 90% of the limes sold in the U.S. In one year, she said citrus canker wiped out the Florida lime crop.

Ostlund said the company redirected its focus to work with several Mexican growers over a number of years. She said the company eventually concluded one grower was superior to all others. “He is a great supplier,” Ostlund said. “The 2007 crop is very good with lots of juice.”

She said that the grower was providing a wide range of sizes. Ostlund said the large lime crop offered retailers a good opportunity for promotions in July when the avocado and papaya crops hit the shelves. Consumers have developed a taste for mixing lime juice with avocados and with papayas, she said.