Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tight winter supplies set to boost prices for Mexico

Excerpts from a Dec/Jan article in the AmericaFruit Magazine written by Jose Escobedo

Despite the heavy rains that struck the state of Veracruz in September and October 2010, on the whole Mexico's year-round lime deal should not see a shortage in the pipelines that supply the US market. However, a tight winter season means prices are likely to be higher than usual.

Mexican lime production tends to peak between May and July, while volume is fairly low through March and April.The groves are concentrated mostly in the sates of Veracruz, Oaxaca and Tabasco.

"The extra rainfall seems to have spurred on the limes to size up more quickly and plentifully than they may have without it, and there have been plenty of good quality limes available," points out Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for Florida-based Brooks Tropicals.

Ms. Ostlund claims that Brooks Tropicals' growers expect prices to be high and supplies tight during the Christmas and New Year holiday period, as usual. "FOB prices for 40lb cartons range from around US$6 at peak production periods to as high as US$40 and above when there are shortages," she explains. "Competition from Central American limes on the East Coast has kept prices in check."

Brooks offers 40lb bulk and 10lb place packs of limes with PLUs, both imported through McAllen, Texas, and Homestead, Florida. "Our volume continues to increase more rapidly through Texas than through Florida," adds Ms Ostlund.

And despite the rising retail prices, importers are optimistic that retailers are promoting the fruit. "It looks like supplies will allow for promotions through mid-November, but after that, volume is expected to fall and prices to rise," says Ms Ostlund.