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Blog | 4 min read
global lime production
July 28, 2022
July 28, 2022

Exploring the Global Lime Production Landscape


Lime is the second most important citrus fruit in the world. (p. 4) They are believed to have originated in India and Southeast Asia, but they are now grown in many different countries. The growing popularity of Mexican and Asian cuisines around the world is helping drive demand for limes.

Given its importance to the world produce market, 103 countries contribute to global lime production. (p. 10) These global lime cultivators, when combined, produced a total volume of 20,049,630 tons in 2019. This number represents a 2.4% year-on-year increase. (p. 9)

The continuous rise in global production of lime yields is also attributable to the increases in the lime harvest area globally, which has been increasing at an average of 3.2% since 2011. (p. 11)

The world average yield of limes also reached its historical maximum in 2018 at 16.6 tons per hectare. (p. 13) But in recent years, the world average remained consistent between 15 and 16 tons per hectare (p. 4)

Parallel to the consistent climb in global lime production, demand for lime has been increasing in the past years. Global lime trading volume in 2019 was 3,597,735 tons, representing USD 3,733 million. (p. 16) This blog will delve deeper into which countries are responsible for producing the most limes, the factors that contribute to this success, and the trade that takes place in the world for this citrus produce.

Global Lime Production in Detail

The average annual increase in lime production between 2010 and 2019 was 2.2%, indicating a minimal but steady increase in production. It was from 2017 to 2018 when global lime production recorded the highest growth of 10.9% in the last 12 years. (p. 9)

Along with the rise in lime production volume, the value of global lime production value also increased considerably in recent years, almost reaching USD 19,000 million  (p. 5)

Among the numerous lime producers in the world, India, Mexico, and China lead the race. Together, these three countries produced almost 45% of all the world’s lime. (p.4) Their lead in lime production is also attributable to the fact that they have the largest lime harvest area. The three countries together account for 44.1% of the world’s lime area. (p. 12)

Meanwhile, in terms of lime yields, the US is the leader, with 39.9 tons per hectare (p. 14) which is more than double than the world’s average lime yields.

Lime Trade Flows in the World

Volumes of world lime exports have been consistently increasing from 2014 to 2019. It reached an all-time high in 2019, with 3,673,379 tons of limes being exported. This represents 2.1% more than in 2018.

But despite the steady increase in world lime exports, there has been significant volatility in the world lime prices, leading to the drop in the value of world lime exports. (p. 19) In 2019, the value of world lime exports was USD 3.438 million, a decrease of 8.0% compared to 2018 when it reached USD 3.738 million, the highest export figure achieved. (p. 19)

North America, Europe, and the Middle East are the largest importers of lime. The top 10 countries are:

  • US
  • Netherlands
  • Russia
  • Germany
  • France
  • the UK
  • Iraq
  • Italy
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Canada

Despite being the eighth largest lime grower in the world, the US also imports limes from other countries and even leads in the volumes of lime imports.

The US imports exceed the combined orders of the Netherlands, Russia, and Germany by more than 20%. (p.4)

The biggest trade flow of limes is Mexico’s export to the United States. In 2019, this translated into 687,266 tons of limes imported to the US, with a value of US$543 million. This flow equates to 20% of the world lime trade.

Spain is next to Mexico in terms of volumes of lime exports. It supplies to Germany, France, and Italy, which together account for 9.6% of world imports. (p. 18)

Turkey’s imports of lime to Russia also is one of the biggest world trade volumes. In 2019, Turkey imported 100,691 tons of limes to Russia, worth 78 million dollars. (p. 18)

ProducePay: Connecting Produce Buyers to Best-in-Class Lime Growers

Through the ProducePay Marketplace, wholesalers, distributors, and retailers can have easy and convenient means to buy quality limes from growers in various regions. The ProducePay Marketplace provides a matchmaking process, allowing produce buyers to quickly find growers that meet their specific produce and volume requirements.

ProducePay can also offer various tools, such as sales analyses and market reporting. In addition, growers can utilize ProducePay’s financing options that help support their financial flow, to help further boost their lime production without the need for collateral.

Contact us to know more about how ProducePay Marketplace can assist with your produce trade.