Lime Disease?


About 98 percent of limes consumed in the U.S. come from Mexico. But our neighbors to the south are feeling seriously squeezed by a shortage of the beloved citrus fruit. (NPR)

Use our resources to better understand international supply chains.

The price of limes has more than doubled in the past year. Photograph by Colin Roohan, Your Shot
The price of limes has more than doubled in the past year.
Photograph by Colin Roohan, National Geographic Your Shot

Discussion Ideas

  • Most limes are eaten as a flavoring on dishes, such as the carne asada mentioned in the NPR article. (Mmmm, carne asada.) However, limes are also important parts of the supply chains of finished goods. Read through our activity “A Supply Chain” for an example of a food supply chain. What are some supply chains that may be impacted by the lime shortage?
    • frozen lime juices
    • lime- or citrus-flavored soda
    • guacamole
    • perfume and scented oils, including those used in products such as candles, soaps, and cleaners



  • Limes are a subtropical fruit, which flourish in generally warm, dry regions. Mexico’s lime crop was devastated by a combination of heavy rains and a bacterium that threatens lime trees. What are some weather-related threats to temperate fruits? To tropical fruits? Take a look at the “Fruits and Vegetables” section in our encyclopedic entry on food for some guidance.
    • Temperate fruits grow best where there is a well-defined cold season, as in the U.S. states of Washington and Oregon. Temperate fruits include apples, berries, grapes, pears, plums, and peaches.
      • Threats to temperate fruits might include an unusual heat spell or an infestation of heat-tolerant insects such as fruit flies. Like limes, temperate fruits can also be impacted by heavy rains and frosts.
    • Tropical fruits require a hot climate to grow. Tropical fruits such as bananas, mangoes, and papayas grow in hot, humid areas like the Philippines.
      • Threats to tropical fruits might include an unusual cold spell, or devastation caused by the storms that wrack some tropical areas.
    • And, of course, there are human-related threats to the fruit supply chain—like drug cartels.

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