What makes these profitable crops so appealing to farmers, consumers, and investors?

As demand for lemons and limes has skyrocketed over the past few years, one lime stands out as the emerging dominant variety. Known globally under multiple monikers, the seedless lime, Persian lime, Bearss lime, or Tahiti lime, it’s currently the most commonly cultivated lime variety.     

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Read this comprehensive overview of Tahiti limes including markets, regions of productions, best practices, forecasts, and more. The data contained in this report is the foundation of our Valle Verde lime operation.

Even if you’ve never heard of this lime specifically, there’s a good chance you’ve consumed food and drinks or purchased products containing it. It’s a staple in many traditional and alcohol-free cocktails, and plays a major role in the flavor profile of many ethnic dishes and desserts.

But it’s not only Asian and Latin American cooking where the Tahiti lime adds sweet and tangy zest. This excellent crop also plays a significant role in skincare products and household cleaners. The lime’s natural aroma and acidic juices provide various functional and other health benefits. 

Potential investors should note that many experts believe this extremely versatile crop is just starting to gain momentum, and its potential as a valuable cash crop seems to have only just begun.

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Why Do Consumers Find Tahiti Limes So Attractive?

Tahiti limes originated in Southeast Asia. The first recorded mass cultivation occurred in Persia (hence the name “Persian lime”), and the limes quickly found their place in the local cuisine. It was here that its status as a profitable crop began to rise as limes gradually spread across the ancient world.

The basic biology of Tahiti limes is a core reason they became such lucrative crops. 

Their mild flavor profile and juicy pulp comes wrapped in an attractive, colorful skin. In addition, Tahiti limes have virtually no seeds, are relatively large in size, and have a longer shelf life than many other varieties.

Flavorful cuisine

Tahiti limes are enjoyed worldwide, but some regions have cuisines that especially drive lime consumption.

Many dishes from Mexico, Thailand, and Vietnam rely on limes and lime juice in large quantities. South Indian dishes often use pickled limes, while many Iraqi and Persian recipes call for dried limes.

Other parts of the world are no strangers to these delicious and profitable crops. In the U.S., for example, lime zest (shavings from the rind) and juice is a crucial ingredient in key lime pie and many other recipes.

But it’s not only in these areas that consumers flock to grocery stores or farmer’s markets for limes. The rising popularity of ethnic foods worldwide drives lime consumption.

Year-round demand is also boosted by the lime’s essential role in a multitude of craft cocktails and mocktails. Many drinks, from the classic mojito to the alcohol-free soda counter classic lime rickey, require a dash of sweet and tangy lime juice or a lime wedge as a garnish. 

Nutrient-rich biology

Like many citrus specimens, the Tahiti lime is extremely rich in vitamin C. A single lime delivers nearly one-third of the daily vitamin C requirement and provides a range of other essential vitamins and minerals that often arise from high-value crop species.

Chief among these is potassium, a critical component of many natural processes occurring in the human body. The Tahiti lime may also have positive effects on the heart muscle, boost the immune system, improve skin, and drive iron absorption. 

Further, the antioxidants delivered by the fruit show a lot of promise in decreasing the risk of particular types of cancer for regular consumers.

All of these benefits come from a reasonably priced fruit. Tahiti limes are both accessible and readily available thanks to its global farm business, though it is a marketplace that is quickly shifting towards new dominant suppliers.

As a beloved plant and one of the most profitable crops for small farms, the biology of this fruit clearly works for everyone.

Biggest Global Markets for Tahiti Limes

Global lime consumption is on the rise. From 2019 to 2020, the total export value increased by 12.2 percent, benefiting the international and local growers dedicated to producing delicious limes.

The United States

The U.S. counts as one of the biggest importers of lime and lemon products. In 2021 alone, the country took in 1.6 billion pounds of fresh limes worth over $630 million. That equates to roughly 16 percent of the global supply and represents a jump of 38 percent over 2020.

The value of limes and lemons consumed in the U.S. has nearly quadrupled in the decade since 2012.

A major driver of U.S. lime consumption is the country’s large Latino population, coupled with the growing popularity of Latin American cuisine. But beyond that, the country as a whole regularly consumes a massive amount of limes, especially through the hospitality industry.

Until the early 2000s, Florida boasted significant commercial Tahiti lime production. While the cash crops approach worked for a while, citrus canker, a bacterial disease, forced the country to turn to imported limes.

Import Value of Limes


While the consumption of limes in individual European countries may not seem significant – between five and 11 percent – altogether, Europe consumes 53 percent of the world’s limes. A strong cocktail culture plays heavily into this demand. It’s particularly visible during the summer months when limes are sold fresh.

The biggest importers of these cash crops are Germany, France, the UK, Italy, and the Netherlands. According to the latest estimates, the compound annual growth of the fresh lime market in Europe should be above four percent over the next five years.

The countries in Europe have a range of options when it comes to Tahiti lime exporters. Limes there are typically imported from Spain, Vietnam, South Africa, Turkey, and Brazil, among other places.

The heterogenous lime supply can lead to huge price fluctuations, as harvest time for many crops is different from region to region. Additionally, prices may vary greatly between regions that seem close on the map. Paris, Berlin, and Rome may have vastly different lime prices simultaneously.


The populous Asian country formerly grew much of its own citrus, including limes. But recently, Japan has turned to imports due to an aging workforce and declining population.

Nevertheless, demand for citrus fruits has risen significantly in the past several years, and limes are leading the pack. In 2020, the country imported 2.2 percent of the world’s lime supply, worth some $95 million USD.

Saudi Arabia

While Saudi Arabia is increasingly focused on growing its own food, citrus self-sufficiency seems to stop at mandarins and oranges.

The country sources most of its Tahiti limes from South Africa, Turkey, and Egypt. Despite its small size, the country accounts for around 1.7 percent of all global imports of this fruit.

Further, the Saudi Kingdom’s impressive purchasing power means growing demand can be expected.


The world’s largest country by territory has virtually no domestic citrus production. Its geographic location and frigid climate are generally unwelcoming for plants preferring warmer climates. 

Thus, Russia is forced to import its entire citrus supply, including Tahiti limes.

Financial restrictions and sanctions prevent Russia from dealing with the U.S. and many European Union member countries, so most of its limes are imported from Peru, Egypt, Turkey, Ecuador, and Argentina. 

In 2020, its import value exceeded $200 million USD, a global share of lime consumption of 4.2 percent.

Growing Investment in Global Lime Producers

Increasing demand for these profitable crops opens up the market for new grow sites, which has subsequently enticed investors. On top of the traditionally largest producers – Mexico and Brazil – a number of other nations are quickly becoming prominent Tahiti lime producers.

Some of these have been actively growing this cash crop for decades, while investors and producers in other countries are searching for the newest trends in what could be the next most profitable crop and are just entering the trade at a significant level.

With demand keeping the overall pie continuously expanding, the estimated revenue of key global lime producers is likely to continue rising.

Leading Lime Producers

Current top producers

The current top producers of limes are also among the fastest-growing exporters. Both Mexico and Brazil saw double-digit growth in lime exports in 2021, reflecting strong consumer demand and a willingness to ramp up production. 

However, both countries’ seasonal lime production is affected by plant diseases and climate change. These challenges, coupled with an aging infrastructure, threaten their positions as the leading lime producers.

Fastest-growing lemon and lime exporters

The massive growth of global lime demand triggers further investment in lime production. Peru (+64%), Belgium (+59%), Colombia (+57%), and Portugal (+13%) all saw significant growth in lime and lemon exports in 2021. 

Growth like this both signals and attracts increasing investor interest in limes as a potential cash crop. 

How Colombia became the fastest-growing lime exporter

The nation’s farmers have achieved a 450 percent increase in lemon and lime exports since 2015. In 2020, its export revenue hit $32 million for these citrus fruits, and present estimates show a potential growth rate of 20 percent per year for limes. 

Colombia is investing confidently in infrastructure and agricultural technology, providing plenty of ways for small farms and businesses to grow. It’s not only land and trees that are necessary to grow profitable crops. These operations require investment in infrastructure, from private sorting and packing facilities to publicly owned roads and ports, to ensure the popular fruit reaches end consumers. 

At the same time, Colombia is determined to see a sustainable expansion of its agriculture industry. The recent end of a long-running civil war and the election of its first leftist president is allowing a new direction and pushing the country away from extractive industries like oil and gas. This allows sustainable farms and similar businesses to develop further.

A lasting shift toward sustainable agriculture will provide Colombian farmers with the opportunity to make money regardless of size, and cash crops are a powerful lever for this. For example, growers of the Tahiti lime, a profitable cash crop for smaller farms, are among those who will benefit from this collection of new Colombian business ideas.

most profitable crops

What is a cash crop?

In short, cash crops are agricultural products produced for profit rather than sustenance. Common high-profit crops typically grown in massive quantities and sold to third parties include coffee, cotton, tea, rubber, and many others.

What makes a crop profitable?

The profitability of a crop depends on many variables: demand, variety of uses, access to farmer’s markets, upfront investment and running expenses, and farming conditions.

But market prices are the most significant indicator of potential agricultural profitability. High crop prices generally allow farmers to earn more income by selling fewer crops from one acre.

As with any business, turning a profit means closely monitoring expenses and keeping costs lower than the estimated revenue. For example, high-quality organic fertilizers may be a significant investment. But if they boost yield per square foot, it may be worth the additional cost.

Cash crops for small farms

A profitable agriculture business doesn’t require a massive operation with millions of dollars worth of machinery. There’s a broader trend in an expanding group of small-scale and urban farmers growing profitable niche products. 

In terms of size, these small farms fall somewhere in the middle. They’re larger than a mini-farm producing gourmet mushrooms and other edible fungi in a repurposed shipping container, and smaller than a giant Midwest corn and soybean farm with nearly 2,000 acres.

The most profitable crops for small farms include:

  • Gourmet mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, and other edible fungi
  • Goji berries
  • Gourmet garlic
  • Lavender for oil
  • Pastured poultry
  • Christmas trees
  • Microgreens
  • Tahiti limes

Small farms, especially those in emerging economies, focusing on the right products can build lucrative businesses.

limes, citrus fruits, fruits, most profitable crops

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Tahiti limes as a cash crop?

Massive farms often produce cash crops at scale to generate a return. Building a profitable business structure for a small farming operation requires a different focus and an alternate interpretation of what it means to produce a cash crop. 

Instead of competing on volume, these farms focus on high-quality specialty products like gourmet garlic or free-range eggs to sell locally or organic limes to meet demand around the world.

Although they may not be among the traditional cash crops, Tahiti limes meet the criteria to be considered an attractive cash crop. Further, increasing domestic and international demand give these limes increasing potential to be among the most profitable businesses.

Multiple value-added products

Farmers have many crops to choose from. The most profitable crops are typically those with multiple uses, high demand, high yields, and can grow year-round with more than one annual harvest time.

Tahiti limes are a good example of a profitable crop that fits these criteria. 

Not only can they grow year-round in certain locations, but Tahiti lime products have multiple applications. Beyond culinary uses and their role in many common beverages, there’s a growing need for lime oil.

Treated like an expensive culinary herb, lime oil is making its way into cosmetics, perfumes, cleaning products, and much more. The same goes for lime-flavored salts.

With minimal investment and proper knowledge, farmers growing plants like these can increase demand or add additional revenue streams by exploring multiple uses for their products.

A resilient permanent crop

As a plant, Tahiti lime trees are resilient. The species’ basic biology makes it a prime candidate for a profitable business or small farm.

It’s a high-yield species that can successfully produce fruits in a range of different temperatures and overall climate conditions. Lime trees are particularly fruitful in tropical climates, such as Colombia and Brazil. However, Brazil’s winters are too cold for citrus production, whereas Colombia’s so-called Eternal Spring provides a temperate climate and plenty of rain, allowing for year-round profitable farming of juicy Tahiti limes.

Strong demand

Like much of the world, small lime farms weren’t spared from the recent challenges presented in early spring 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing global supply chain chaos.

A shuttered hospitality industry at the start of the pandemic temporarily destroyed demand for limes and lemons, hurting small farms and international producers growing these profitable crops. 

Fortunately, demand for these specialty crops rebounded as the world recovered from the pandemic. Since then, basic economics have been mystified as both demand and price have increased simultaneously. This suggests demand is outpacing supply, attracting new producers.

Higher prices coupled with increasing demand over the last few years only enforce the notion that a multi-year growth cycle for these products will continue. The Tahiti lime is once again showing why it continues to be one of the best cash crops around.

As small farms increasingly take to cultivating the Tahiti limes, they quickly learn why the plant is among the most profitable crop species available.

Producer shake-ups

North America supply levels increased between 25 and 30 percent in 2021. Surprisingly, this didn’t drive a decline in price, suggesting that global production of Tahiti limes is not keeping up with the rising overall demand.

Historically, Mexico and Brazil have grown the bulk of the limes consumed globally. But challenges from climate change, plant diseases, organized crime, aging infrastructure, and seasonal production prevent lime producers in Brazil and Mexico from keeping up with demand.

Fortunately for lime lovers around the globe, emerging producers like those in Colombia are stepping up to fill the supply gap and can be quickly profitable.

Sustainable farming practices

As the middle class around the world grows, there’s increased demand for healthy foods produced with environmental and social responsibility in mind. These conscious consumers tend to seek organically grown goods at farmers markets and avoid processed foods. European importers are especially focused on sustainable and organic small farm lime production.

Wholesalers in Europe often focus on producers that follow international standards, like Global GAP and GRASP. Thus, the retail price of limes in European countries is typically quite high compared with the U.S.

The quality of Tahiti limes is of the utmost importance to potential European buyers. Exporters adhering to strict produce standards have a major opportunity in any of these markets.

The modern farmer can capitalize on these consumer preferences and build an alternative approach to profitable farming that fits well with this healthy eating mindset.

For example, Tahiti limes and the farming businesses that produce them sustainably may also grow cover crops that fit well with bee farms, mushroom farming, and other similar ventures that also produce healthy cash crops.

How to Get Involved in the Future of One of the Most Profitable Crops

The Tahiti lime is an exquisite fruit that shows a lot of global promise that other crops from small farm businesses simply can’t match. This popular fruit is constantly gaining new ground around the globe thanks to its rich flavor profile and multiple benefits to health and well-being.

Your FREE Tahiti Lime White Paper

Read this comprehensive overview of Tahiti limes including markets, regions of productions, best practices, forecasts, and more. The data contained in this report is the foundation of our Valle Verde lime operation.

Increasing demand coupled with the struggles faced by the current top producers means an increasing number of countries have an opportunity to cover the demand for one of the most profitable crops.

Colombian lime farms are perfectly poised to take advantage of the Tahiti lime’s global growth. 

The country’s geostrategic location and climates (political and meteorological) make it an intriguing time to consider Colombia. 

Farmfolio gives investors an opportunity to get involved in farms growing this in-demand product. If you’d like to learn more about why the Tahiti lime is an exciting low-risk, high-reward opportunity, fill out the form below. 

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