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.
2017 was difficult for Mexican lime producers. The winter crop ending in February was small as producers scaled back production due to a lack of demand and healthy carry over supplies from 2016. That was unfortunate as the summer season proved more challenging than anyone would have expected.
As per our last report there was a 22% reduction in fresh fruits (2.3 million tons to 1.8 million tons) and of this only 12% went to the processing markets. This is a total decrease of 43% – a huge deficit in the market. In any other year this would have proved catastrophic but weak demand from the major buyers has kept the market balanced throughout 2017. That said, these end users will not stay quiet for long so once their demand returns the supply pressures will be felt.
Although Key Lime production is year round, production in Michoacán targets the winter season (October to February), while production in Colima covers demand from May through September.
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