Lime-pocalypse 2014: A Margarita-Ruining Supply Chain Lesson

The loss of limes in the past few months may have ruined Margarita Mondays across the U.S., but it’s also a pretty textbook example of how companies have to think outside the box when a supply chain is interrupted.


Back in March, lime producers in Mexico — where 98% of limes consumed in the U.S. come from — were hit on three sides: by heavy rains, a tree-infecting disease, and even Mexican cartels hijacking truck shipments.

As a result, costs skyrocketed to about $1.75 a pound, three times the usual price!

Faced with the decision to use fewer limes or pay as much as $130 per box, many restaurants and bars have opted to ease up on the garnishes, and substitute lemons where possible (at least, those bars without an under-the-table lime connection).

As crops return to normal, prices are coming back down — but some business owners are making plans should another surprise shortage come up. Case in point: Philadelphia, which usually receives its limes, papayas, and other Mexican produce via truck, is working to launch a weekly ocean shipping route from the Port of Vera Cruz.

Since ships are less likely to be hijacked by trucks or impacted by bad weather, shipments can arrive faster. Who knows? This alternate supply chain option might turn into the go-to source for much-needed limes!


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