All you margarita fans out there, let’s get serious. Experts are projecting a massive world-wide tequila shortage until 2021, and unfortunately, yes, your Friday night binges are partially to blame.
According to Reuters, a shortage of the agave plant — the plant used to make the liquor — is the problem. The price of the the blue-tinged spikey-leaved succulent has increased six-fold in just two years, causing the price to jump from 3.85 pesos per kilo to 22.
Agave plants normally take seven or eight years to reach maturity. The report states that only 17.7 million agaves were planted in 2011 — and 42 million are needed to supply the 140 registered tequila companies. This shortage is forcing farmers to harvest agaves that have not yet reached maturity — causing a downward spiral for several upcoming years.
Tequila has gained popularity in recent years with total U.S. sales up 7.4 percent between 2015 and 2016. That amounts to 7.5 percent of all liquor sales in the country — the most tequila has ever seen in the States. This increase comes at a time when overall alcohol consumption is down.
The high prices mean that low-cost tequila companies will find it harder to compete with premium brands, and many will feel the economic stress and even be forced to cease production. There just aren’t enough plants to continue the volume of tequila we enjoy today.
At best you’ll be spending a lot more for that same Bloody Maria or Juan Collins, and at worst you’ll need to find yourself an alternative for a few years until the agave can make a comeback.