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      Happy Hour Not So Happy, USDA Says Fruit Price Spike Equals Cocktail Price Spike

      By: Leah Uko

      luko@kptm.com

      OMAHA (KPTM) - Grabbing adrink at Happy Hour may not be so happy for consumers due to price increases onlemons, oranges, and limes--fruit that is used to make mixed cocktails,margaritas and other alcoholic beverages.

      According to the United StatesDrug Administration, fruit prices climbed 2.5 percent from January to February thisyear.

      USDA claims data shows lemonprices increased 41 percent to $0.62 a piece, orange prices went up 27 percentto $1.19 a pound, and tomato prices increased five percent to $1.30 a pound.

      Analysts say there are anumber of factors contributing to these price spikes.

      Majority of the limes used inthe U.S. come from Mexico, which dealt with snaps of cold weather and violencethat impacted the harvesting and transporting of limes.

      Also, the deep drought inCalifornia contributed to the orange, lemon, and tomato price increases. The state'sCentral Valley region produces approximately one-third of the produce in thecountry.

      This recent news is notcompletely unfortunate. Alcohol consumers can always switch mixers. The pricesof soda, strawberries and grapefruit have managed to remain the same.

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