The USDA has changed the way it reports lime prices, drawing praise from members of the Texas International Produce Association.
On Sept. 1, USDA Market News began reporting limes in a manner that is more consistent with the many grade offerings of that commodity so as to better reflect the range of quality that exists in the marketplace by using “appearance,” according to a news release.
“Lime handlers have been telling us for the last year that the prices reported from Market News were not clear enough to understand the market,” TIPA President Dante Galeazzi said in the release.
Prices at times last year reflected a $40 difference between the lowest and highest price for the same size, he said.
“This difference was largely the result of the many grades present in the marketplace,” Galeazzi said. “We applaud USDA’s decision to make these changes, as we believe it will help eliminate confusion among all users of Market News with regards to limes. The market has changed considerably in the last 20 years, and efforts such as this will improve the industry’s dealings with this commodity.”
Market News will now report lime prices similar to the manner in which apple, cucumber and bell pepper prices are reported, the release said. Since limes do not require that a grade be printed on the box, USDA must use specific terminology to correctly communicate the pricing within commodity standards, according to the release.
Market News will now use the Appearance column to reflect the quality associated with each price reported. The terms used in the Appearance column will be:
- Fine Appearance — U.S. Grade No. 1 (best of the best).
- Fair Appearance — U.S. Grade number combination.
- Blank or no designation on appearance — less than fine but better than fair.
Limes have established themselves as a grocery store staple and demand has skyrocketed, the release said. A University of Florida report cited the volume of Persian limes increasing over 200% since 2002, and the average consumption rising more than 70% since 2010 to nearly 4.27 pounds of limes per American consumer.
This growth in the lime market has not been without challenges, the release said.
Alongside efforts such as improvements in price reporting by USDA Market News and TIPA’s Lime Education & Training Day held in August, TIPA says it is confident the fresh produce community will come to accept the opportunities to improve their knowledge of limes.