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Local produce store squeezes out extra cash for high lime prices

By: Stacey Welsh
EL PASO, Texas -- A lime shortage affecting other parts of the country is forcing local produce stores to squeeze out some extra cash.

Drought and disease have been damaging crops in Mexico, severely impacting the lime market.

"The problem started around the beginning of the month. The price of limes rose drastically," Jr. Produce manager Oscar Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said small key limes used to sell 10 for $1, but are now only five for $1 because of the shortage.

"Now people look at the price and say never mind. That kind of hurts. It hurts the customer because they can't take what they want," Gonzalez said.

He also said the store was paying about $30 for a crate of 150 traditional limes. Now, that same crate costs about $110.

Some shoppers told KFOX14 they've noticed the shortage around town.

"When I go to restaurants, they usually put limes on food. Now they don't, especially in menudo," Lower Valley resident Ariana Ortega said.

The shortage is also affecting other states like California.

The steep prices have some customers looking for alternatives.

"What's been selling the most is liquid lime concentrate. That's what a lot of people have been using instead of limes. Lemon sales have also gone up," Gonzalez said.

"I would still buy them because that's what we usually eat," Ortega said.

Gonzalez expects lime prices to go down by July because the next lime harvest could happen in May.