A tequila shortage might be coming soon, because we’re running out of agave — the plant used to make tequila. The price of agave plants has risen 6-fold in the past two years. Americans are drinking more pure tequila than ever, which means that agave usage is in overdrive.
Exports of it had jumped by 198% over the past decade, while cheaper blended tequila exports only rose by 11%. Agave might take up to 10 years to mature, so growers are being forced to use younger plants to keep up with demand. But the younger plants produce less tequila, which means that even more plants have to be pulled up early.
All that, combined with an already limited agave supply is causing a shortage of the plants. More than a dozen tequila industry experts told Reuters that early harvesting could mean the shortage will be ever worse this year. Planting strategies have been put in place, though it’ll take years to see to results, and shortages are expected to continue until 2021.
Agave prices are at 22 pesos ($1.18) per kilo now — it used to be 3.85 pesos ($.186) per kilo in 2016. The more expensive prices have also led to more thefts — 15,000 plants were reported stolen last year. There’s a major supply and demand problem, but most people probably won’t be cutting back on their tequila consumption any time soon.