Limes 'squeezing' wallets as record inflation continues

Posted at 10:22 AM, Mar 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-01 11:22:29-05

WACO, Texas — Economists say supply chain issues and winter weather are to blame for rising prices in the produce aisle.

On average, prices are 10 to 20 cents more than this time last year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Limes cost more now.

Local Mexican restaurants are feeling the impact.

Limes are an essential ingredient at Hecho En Waco.

Juicy green limes are sliced up and squeezed onto everything from fajitas to margaritas.

"The lime flavor is that extra spice that extra kick you need to make it better," General Manager Diana Gonzales said that the restaurant is stuck with absorbing the cost to avoid charging their customers more.

"It's on everything. We can't live without it," Gonzales said.

"It just makes everything better and at the moment it's hard to get."

Gonzales said her supplier is struggling to keep up with the demand.

The shortage of limes is all thanks to a wet winter, labor shortages, and higher shipping costs.

As A&M Professor Vinay Gonela explained, it is a simple case of supply and demand.

"Restaurants which rely on this product like Chipotle and all, their prices are going to go up," said Gonella, an A&M Central Texas professor of Business and Marketing.

Produce Blue Book shows the bitter price for limes nearly doubled from $28 to more than $60 a carton in just a week in January, which is still shaking up the hospitality industry.

Gonela said the higher overhead for produce and other essentials are hurting restaurants.

"They either have to pay due to the lack of availability or they just say, 'we're not going to use this product," Gonela said.

This is more evidence of inflation stirring up the market.

"Yes, that means we will lose more money," Gonzales said.

"But we always want to serve the best product even if that means taking a hit."

No matter how you slice it, pricier limes are leaving a sour taste.

The smaller limes were going for 38 cents each at H-E-B at news time.

The bigger limes cost 62 cents.