Vision Import Group LLC, which is headquartered in River Edge, NJ, is offering a new bagged lime product featuring modified-atmosphere packaging.
Executive Vice President Raul Millan said that the special bag extends the shelf life of the limes by up to two weeks under normal conditions.
“We have been doing some testing for the last couple of weeks,” he told The Produce News Tuesday, Oct. 4. “In ambient temperature, the limes have easily lasted 10-12 days longer. With refrigeration, we believe we can get up to two weeks of extended shelf life.”
Mr. Millan said that the modified-atmosphere packaging allows the transfer of naturally occurring gases through the plastic membrane. This permeability allows for the transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out of the bag, which allows the fruit to breathe. This, in turn, helps prevent decay and results in a longer shelf life.
Vision Import is selling the bagged limes in a 34-pound carton that contains 17 two-pound bags. Each bag will contain 10 to 14 pieces of fruit, depending on the size.
“We are typically packing a 230-count in these new bags, but we can custom pack whatever the retailer wants,” said Mr. Millan. “We can do a 175-, 200- or 230-count.”
The bag includes high-color graphics and the company’s lime brand, which is “Mojito.”
“We are calling these ‘Mojito Lime Bags,’“ Mr. Millan said.
He added that this is a custom pack, which will be packed to fill orders and not typically available as a spot-market product.
“We see this as a high-end product without a high-end cost,” he said.
The product has been designed to both increase the retail ring and to reduce shrink, which is the reasoning behind the modified-atmosphere bags.
Mr. Millan said that the first bagged limes were being packed in Mexico as he spoke with The Produce News and would be introduced to the U.S. market the following week. Mexico is currently in a heavy-volume period, which was expected to remain until about mid-November, he said. After that, volume could drop dramatically.
“A lot of flower [bloom] was lost for the next crop, which should start in December,” he said. “There have been a lot of heavy rains in Mexico recently, and that is going to create a low-volume situation from the end of November until early February. In fact, I see low volume and high prices for a long time.”
Mr. Millan said that in early October a basic carton of Mexican limes was selling for about $8 f.o.b. Texas. “I think we will see a hot market in late November that should rise to $14 to $18. In December, the market should top $20 [per carton f.o.b.].”
The Vision Import executive said that Mexico is the top supplier of limes to the United States, accounting for more than 90 percent of U.S. lime imports every year.
Guatemala and El Salvador also ship limes to the United States, and Mr. Millan expects that there could be extra sales for those shipping districts in the winter period when the market is hot and supplies are tight.