A global lime shortage is providing a boost for a Havelock North-based grower.
St Andrews Limes owner Anthony Williams has been recognised around the country as "Mr Limes" since he and his wife began growing the fruit in Havelock North 12 years ago. "I'm referred to as the lime guy in New Zealand."
Mr Williams, 68, said he had been inundated with queries since the lime shortage was widely reported at the weekend. "A lot of people have rung me up, emailed me, or spoken to me at the farmer's market," Mr Williams said.
The price of limes had increased drastically in the United States due to disruption of Mexican producers by drug cartels. "It's because the drug cartels have attacked the growers and are holding the limes back from the US ... The US is a huge user of limes and they're forcing the price up to hurt the US."
The Knight Templar drug cartel were disrupting deliveries and raiding farmers in the Mexican state of Michoacan. As a result, the price of limes had shot up in Mexico and the US and bars were pulling lime drinks off their happy hour menus.
Mr Williams said while New Zealand lime prices had not been affected, the situation was drawing a huge amount of public attention to limes and their value.
"I think it [the drug cartel raids] is going to keep happening. The good thing about it is it's making people more aware of limes and their uses." Limes were ideal for cocktails and it had become "trendy" to use them in recent times, Mr Williams said.
Mr Williams had 120 lime trees on his St Andrews Rd property. "It's actually not a good area to grow limes because they're frost tender," Mr Williams said. He had protected baby limes from the frost with diesel burners in the past.
Mr Williams had a contract through marketing agency Ogilvy & Mather to supply one kilo of limes per week to 70 bars around New Zealand for two months this year.
"They've [Ogilvy & Mather] already indicated they would like us to supply more limes in September and next year as well."
Mr Williams also planned to be on a stand at The Food Show Wellington this weekend.
"The limes this year are absolutely superb - they're bigger and juicier. The future holds a lot of potential for us."