The Lemon, Lime, and Mango Tango

Lemons, limes, and mangos agree that 2020 was a lemon of a year – a little sweet, a little sour.  

The shutdown of foodservice establishments during the pandemic cost substantial lemon and lime sales since restaurants and bars use the lower grade, smaller stuff that retailers don’t want on shelves.

On a normal year, holidays squeeze out a few more sales, but for the most part, lemons and limes are produce aisle staples. Think lime+guac, lemon+seafood, slices of lime+adult beverage, etc.

Because of this ap[peel]ing versatility, limes and lemons benefited from the pandemic boom in retail demand for produce.

Zoom out: On another bright side, consumption has steadily increased over the last decade.

Lemon imports increased by 239 million pounds from 2010 to 2019, a 246% gain. This raised the import share of the total lemon supply to 19%. The domestic lemon share also received a 46% boost, reaching 1.41 billion pounds in 2019.

You know what they say, when life hands you lemons…

Limes weren’t left out either. Per capita, lime availability rose 50% from 2.6 pounds in 2010 to 3.9 pounds in 2018. Lime imports increased 560 million pounds from 2010 to 2019, a 70% jump.

Mangoes heard about this crushing lemon/lime success and wanted in on the fun. They are moving from small exotic fruit sections into the larger mainstream spots.

And it’s working: 2020 was a record year for mangoes, with a double-digit lift in volume velocity, at 12%. Whole-mango dollar velocity was up 19% year over year.