Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bars blanch at price of limes

One tries other fruits to make margaritas

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There's not much joy in margaritaville these days.

Winter crop damage and a political flap in Mexico -- the continent's largest lime producer -- has created a severe shortage of the citrus fruit, used to make margaritas and other cocktails.

That has left a sour taste in the mouth of the manager of one local licensed restaurant -- Don Pedro's Mexican Kitchen & Cantina.

David McNabb said local suppliers are charging about four times the regular price for a box of limes these days, and that's too much for his liking. So he's temporarily dropping lime margaritas, which are made with freshly squeezed limes, from the restaurant's liquor menu until prices improve.

Instead, the restaurant is offering margaritas garnished with fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and lemons.

"It's not ideal," McNabb admitted, "but it's just ridiculous to be paying four times what we normally pay for limes."

Don Pedro's isn't the only business finding the inflated prices too tough to stomach.

Guy Allard, a buyer for Garden Grove Distributors (1998) Ltd., said the Winnipeg fruit and vegetable wholesaler has seen its lime sales plunge by two-thirds since early January, when the continent-wide lime shortage started to hit here and prices began to skyrocket.

Allard said the price of a box of limes has increased five-fold since then, soaring to $147 last week from $30 at the start of the year.

"Some people still feel they have to have them for their drinks or in their restaurants or whatever," he said. "But it's only the ones with the biggest pockets who are buying them."

McNabb said he thought he'd compromise by picking up just a few limes at a local supermarket, only to discover it's no longer stocking them either.

Allard said conditions should improve in the next six to eight weeks, when the U.S. winter crop comes to market. But how much prices come down is anyone's guess at this point.

Recent media reports from the southern United States, where limes are a popular commodity, said some bars and restaurants have resorted to using bottled lime juice to keep the margaritas flowing. McNabb admitted he toyed with the idea of using concentrated lime juice but rejected it.

"The quality wouldn't be there."

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 11, 2014 B6

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