Two weeks ago I made my first visit to Simply Natural's organic lime plantation. The owners had told me of their plans to grow organic Persian limes which I thought was a great idea. Persian limes are in high demand in the USA, and on the organic side there always seems to be a shortage.
Having worked in lime sourcing from Mexico, I know that the Veracruz region of Mexico is a major global player, similar to how Michoacan is known for avocados. Every year during hurricane season there always seems to be a supply shock and a shortage occurs.
Furthermore, buyers like to have secondary options from countries of origin outside of Mexico. On the organic side, there is still poor organization among Mexican lime farmers, and there looks to be a major opportunity for organic lime exportation from Latin American countries outside of Mexico like Panama.
The first thing to note when investigating an organic lime operation is the genetics. Simply Natural refers to their variety as "Rainforest limes." Andrew Winstead, the director of their export marketing company Simply Natural Harvest, harvested some limes from one of their parent trees. The Persian lime had a deep lime smell, and the flavor was explosive. I felt confident that these guys had chosen an excellent variety of lime, and that the conditions in Cocle in which their limes were being grown were ideal for export grade.
We then drove about 5-10 minutes from their main mango farm and nursery to their lime operation. Their first lime planting looked to be stabilized and growing well.
The initial investors for their organic Persian lime program are certainly in good hands. The plant nutrition program and integrated pest management systems were well organized and being properly implemented. When I visited, there was a team from Israel providing consulting on their irrigation systems and agricultural engineering. After a 10 minute chat with the Israeli's I was convinced that Simply Natural was working with some of the best engineers in the business.
Limes start to harvest in two years, more quickly than Simply Natural's mangos. I am looking forward to seeing these lime trees grow up and begin harvesting. Everything checks out from a marketing and agricultural perspective, and I wouldn't be surprised to see their organic persian lime or "Rainforest Lime" operation scale up.