Cocktail drinkers in the UK may be left with a sour taste in their mouths this summer, as unseasonable weather and poor lemon harvests threaten to squeeze the industry dry.
Supplies of the favourite drinks accompaniment have been blighted by poor harvests in key crop growing regions, where severe frosts and an unusually warm spring have seen crop yields plummet by more than 35 percent.
Spanish crop growers in Valencia and Malaga have been hit by unusually high temperatures during the key flowering period, causing poor pollination rates and stunted fruit growth.
A 40 percent decrease in supply may mean cocktail drinkers may be a slice short this summer.
In Argentina, heavy rains during the harvesting period have lead to severe disruption and delays to seasonal shipping to European markets.
If you’re a restaurant or bar owner sourcing your products on the open market you are going to be paying a considerable amount more – that’s assuming you can get them.
A citrus black spot endemic in South Africa is also forcing crop growers on the Eastern Cape to delay the picking season, causing prices of the fruit to soar to their highest mark in eight years.
With seasonal supplies from the south east of Spain likely to dry up by June the Big Four supermarkets have been forced to increase the price of an individual lemon to 35p, up 25 percent on last year.
While adverse weather is depleting supplies, stringent guidelines on quality in British supermarkets and growing demanding from a burgeoning middle class in India and China are exacerbating the supply crisis.
With a 15kg box of lemons now selling for £30 wholesale, the hike in prices is likely to eat into the profit margins of restaurants and bars, which use large quantities of the fruit in cocktails, sauces and marinades on a daily basis. “Of course for the consumer the price increase pales in comparison to the cost of a G&T these days, so really it’s just an extra slice to add to an already expensive drink.”
- CREDIT: CHRIS WARDE_JONES, HARRY YORKE