Lime oil is extracted from Citrus aurantifolia (also known as Citrus medica var. acida) of the Rutaceae family and is also known as Mexican and West Indian lime, as well as sour lime. Originally from Asia, it is now cultivated in many warm countries, especially the West Indies, Southern Europe, India and the Americas.
Key limes are smaller and seedier to Persian limes, which are more common to Brazil. Persian limes are sweeter and larger and for this reason have a larger share of the global fresh fruit market.
Lime oil has been extensively used in the food and beverage industries, as well as in creating fragrances. Key limes are more commonly distilled for oil to be used in the beverage industry. This versatile citrus oil is also added to household cleaners, detergents, soaps, and other beauty products. It is frequently used in aromatherapy for its refreshing and stimulating character and can be also used for its cleansing properties.
Lime juice is widely known as a remedy for treating scurvy and it has been said that the early British sailors used it to prevent scurvy and other skin problems due to its rich Vitamin C content. That same Vitamin C content can help boost the immune system, helping to protect you from common colds and flu.
Mexico is the second largest producer of key limes in the world, behind India. However, Mexico processes more fruits for oil making it the largest oil producer. The main producing areas are Tecoman (Colima), Apatzingan (Michoacán), Las Vigas (Guerrero) and Costa, (Oaxaca). In recent times Mexico has cultivated over 80,000 hectares of key limes ever year, producing on average over 1,000 MT of distilled oil and over 500 MT of cold pressed oil.
Mexico suffered terribly during 2014 with their lime production. There are many possible factors behind this with the main reasons being plant disease (greening) and climatic conditions, particularly heavy and unseasonal rains. Their recovery process has been slow and is still on-going, so please check our market updates on the next tab for more details.
The two best known varieties of limes are Citrus aurantifolia, normally called Key lime, and Citrus latifolia, normally called Persian lime. About 52% of lime production in Mexico is Persian and 48% is the Key variety and approximately 15% to 20% of the total Mexican lime production is processed to produce lime oil. The primary product of Key lime is the distilled oil for use in beverages, while for Persian lime it is the cold expressed oil and juice.
Mexico’s 2019-2020 lime production is forecast to increase slightly to 2.422 million tonnes thanks to improved yields. An estimated 395,000 MT will be processed. While some drought conditions during late 2019 affected the main crop from Michoacán, where the production season has already finished in February, leading to a shortfall in fruit volumes of Key limes and firm prices, prices are expected to soften around the peak of the Colima season which started in April and will continue until September/October. So, at the moment Key lime oil supply is tight but should improve by June with fruit volumes for processing returning to normal levels. While the beginning of 2020 has been good for processors with an increased demand of Key lime oil, the fresh fruit market has also continued to be firm. However, the outbreak of COVID-19 represents a challenge for the fresh fruit market since restaurants, bars and food services are closed due to the lockdown in most countries.
As a result of shortfalls in 2019 and smaller fruits than the previous year, fruit prices for the Persian variety were high. As a consequence, in order to have expressed oil to offer in the market, this year processors have been processing what they could from smaller bloom. Therefore, there are challenges ahead but there is positive expectation of better weather resulting in multiple blooms.
LIME PRODUCTION AND PROCESSING 2017/18 TO 2019/20 (‘000 MT)
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