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The shortage of limes has gotten a lot of media attention especially with Cinco de Mayo celebration. The data viz team decided to visualize and analyze the price of limes throughout the past year using SAP Lumira and see if it can shed some light into the lime crisis. We were able to find specific data on the price of limes imported to the states from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Agricultural Marketing Services. The information included all types of data on origin countries, terminal cities around the world, types of limes (organic, seeded, seedless), sizes of lime boxes. We decided to focus on the limes coming from Mexico that are shipped to various cities within the United States. Since the only way to export the data was day by day of all the imports of all types of limes, we had to manually look for and copy the specific data that was needed and create our own excel sheet. We prepared the data on weekly prices of 40 lb cartons of seedless limes that originated from Mexico for the time period April 19, 2013 to end of April 2014. The information was then inputted into Lumira and just with a few clicks, we were able to visualize the lime situation within the past year in the United States.

The first visualization is on the prices of limes from the various cities from April 19, 2013 to end of April 2014. We saw right away that the major increase in prices started in March 2014 for all the cities. Since we have data for the past year, we were able to look at the seasonal price changes of limes during that period. Lumira shows that the prices of limes are generally more expensive in the early spring because of the low temperatures in winter that causes low production. As the weather gets warmer, the prices then starts to drop throughout the summer. However this spring, the prices keep rising to over 3 times the normal price compared to last year. This is due to the severe weather conditions in Mexico.

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The second visualization is comparing the price of limes at the end of April in various cities across the United States. The data viz team wanted to see how big or small the price differences are across the different areas of the country. Lumira shows that in general, the cheapest place to buy limes are more towards the South (Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco). Prices generally increase the more North and West you go, with the exception in Chicago and Detroit. The most expensive place for limes are in Washington state.

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(click to enlarge)


Analysis/Predictions:

Using Lumira, we can already see that the prices are starting to drop after the peak during the first week of April. We believe the prices will continue to drop gradually as the weather warms up and production slowly catches up. However, the prices of limes for the rest of the year will still be higher than last year’s due to the shortage in the spring.

Take a look at the recent press article from CNN Fortune featuring these SAP Lumira data visualizations:

>> A Big Data Look at the Lime Shortage


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