NEW YORK (AP) — Airline passengers might notice something missing these days from their vodka tonics or Diet Cokes: the lime.
A recent shortage and spike in price has caused some airlines — for now — to stop offering the fruit in their beverage service.
"We temporarily pulled limes about two weeks ago, due to skyrocketing lime prices," says Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Halley Knigge. She says the airline normally goes through about 900 limes a day.
Lime growers in the Mexican state of Michoacan have reduced their supply because of unrest caused by drug cartels and flooding from heavy rains. That, combined with drought in California and an overall growing demand for limes for margaritas, tacos and other dishes, has driven up prices to a three-year high.
The average advertised price of a lime in U.S. supermarkets was 56 cents last week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's up from 37 cents the week ending March 28 and 31 cents a year ago.
United Airlines has had to make do with lemons on some flights, saying the California drought has limited its lime supply.
"We still serve limes, though they're more difficult to source. So, on some flights we're substituting with lemons," says spokesman Rahsaan Johnson.
For frequent fliers like Ben Schlappig, author of the travel blog One Mile at a Time, that won't cut it. "There are lots of cocktails where lemon simply isn't a substitute for lime," he says.