A citrus emergency at 30,000 feet

By Gay Nagle Myers
LimesAirline passengers may notice something missing these days in their vodka tonic or Diet Coke.

Due to a shortage of limes and a spike in the price, some airlines have stopped offering a slice of lime in their beverage service.

Lime growers in the Mexican state of Michoacan lost a lot of limes in recent heavy floods; limes in California shriveled up due to drought.

That, plus high demand for margaritas, mojitos and guacamole, has driven prices to a three-year high.

Limes were 56 cents apiece in supermarkets in early April, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's up from 31 cents a year ago.

"We temporarily pulled limes about two weeks ago, due to high prices," said Alaska Airlines' Halley Knigge.

The carrier usually goes through about 900 limes a day.

Limes are in such short supply that United is substituting lemons on some of its flights.

Several restaurants and bars in Phoenix are serving free drinks to customers who bring in a five-pound carton of limes.

The price of limes will continue to be high until a new harvest begins in May, weather permitting.
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