TODAY   |  March 28, 2014

Cinco de oh no! Lime shortage drives prices up

A shortage of limes due to drought conditions is sending prices skyrocketing, and putting the squeeze on at restaurants where limes are a key ingredient in margaritas and guacamole. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

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>>> we're back at 7:45 with bad news if you are a lime lover. be prepared to pay more if you use them to dress up your favorite drinks and recipes. here's janet shamlian with the story.

>> reporter: it's no pulp fiction . there's a genuine shortage of limes. a mainstay of the margarita, an essential, guacamole lovers say to their dish. you can find them, but be prepared to pay.

>> we don't have a lot of limes, prices are skyrocketing.

>> reporter: it's a bitter reality. a lime last year was less than a quarter, about 21 cents, now you'll pay about 53 cents for just one lime.

>> and it's really put the squeeze on. here in texas, where they have 17 restaurants and go through more than 13 million limes per year, the cost per case has gone from $25 to more than $100.

>> it's a third of all of our ingredients, it's the third largest ingredient we buy. it's substantial.

>> most limes come from mexico where rain, cold and disease have all but wiped out the crop meaning some changes for the traditional mexican meal. the taco cabana chain tweeted it was pulling limes from the salsa bars. others aren't offering guarantees.

>> if it continues to be a problem with our prices of limes then, you know, we're going to have to make the charge up on the margarita.

>> the situation looks sour. may not be in time for cinco de mayo , but the next harvest is in may.

>> lime lovers squeezed by high price. for "today," janet shamlian , nbc news, houston.

>> can i just say that i have discovered -- tamron has a real passion for limes. i never knew you felt so strongly about limes.

>> i have been complaining about the price of limes to anyone who would listen for at least a couple of weeks now.

>> and when you actually do pay the price of the limes, there's no juice in them.

>> you get like a drop of juice from the limes.

>> anything else?

>> no, i'm done.

>> they're like apples, those are giant texas limes.

>> i've got to get my mom to bring up a vat of limes to make margaritas.

>> no margaritas, no coronas. you've