In 2019, the U.S. alone was the largest market for imported lemons and limes in the world at $692 million, which was 18 percent of global imports overall, according to data from market researcher IndexBox.
Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service found that U.S. lime imports were valued at $477 million in market year 2019-2020, and lemon imports were valued at $168 million.
IndexBox said the average lemon and lime import price amounted to $1,022 per ton that same year, which implies the U.S. imported around 677,104 tons of the citrus fruits. The import price in 2019 was down by 5.2 percent from the previous year, according to the firm.
On the flip side, the U.S. reportedly exported $195.21 million lemons and limes in 2019, which was an 11.5 percent decline in sales, according to trade metrics from World's Top Exports. Despite this, the research firm has the U.S. listed as the sixth top exporter of lemons and limes after Spain, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Africa and Turkey.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. lemon and lime market has been "hit hard" since restaurants in the country had either been shut down or have been open under limited operations, according to a report from Citrus Industry Magazine.
"A large portion of the choice fruit goes to the food-service industry. And without that industry, it's bad. The movement has slowed dramatically on the choice fruit," Will Pidduck, Ventura County lemon grower told the publication in May. "We're still moving the fancy, the higher quality fruit. But for the choice and some smaller-sized fruit, it definitely slowed way down."