Persian lime oil is extracted from Citrus latifolia (also known as Tahiti Lime) of the Rutaceae family. Originally from Asia, it is now cultivated in most warm countries especially India, the West Indies and the Americas (namely Brazil, Mexico and Peru).
Persian limes are sweeter and larger than key limes and because of this have a larger share of the global fresh fruit market. Key limes are smaller and seedier and more common to Mexico. Persian limes are also greener than key limes, resulting in a different colour and odour of the finished oil.
In Brazil the main producing area is the state of Sao Paulo, with the primary growing areas listed as Catanduva, Jaboticabal, Jales and Mogi-Mirim. Although official statistics show Brazil's recent output of fresh Persian limes to be declining it is still estimated that they cultivate around 50,000 hectares every year. As most of the limes are used in the fresh fruit market, only 10% go on for processing. This realises on average around 300 tonnes of Brazilian Persian lime oil every year.
Lime oil has been extensively used in the food and beverage industry, as well as in creating fragrances. This versatile citrus oil is also added to household cleaners, detergents, soaps, and other beauty products. It is frequently used in aromatherapy as it is refreshing and stimulating and can be 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.
Domestic demand for fresh fruits meant a reduction in the past couple of years of limes being sent for processing. It is anticipated that the net effect is around a 15% reduction in oil processing, a trend that we may continue to see.
Brazilian oil has strong competition from Mexico and within the EU market is disadvantaged by the fact that Mexicans enjoy a zero tariff. Most exports are typically made early or late in the calendar year after the Mexicans have sold their oil. Last year this was an issue as the Mexicans had surplus oil, this year it may be an advantage as they are expecting shortages into 2018.
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