Hold on to your margarita! A tequila crisis may be imminent. There’s an agave shortage in Mexico, which is causing quite a commotion among tequila producers. And the industry could take years to recover.

Agave (the plant that creates the good stuff) takes takes about seven or eight years to mature. A new report states that only 17. 7 million blue agave were planted in 2011. That may sound like a lot, but it’s actually not. To put things in perspective, the Tequila Regulatory Council claims 42 million plants are needed to supply the 140 registered Tequila companies’ demand.

Even if new growing methods are introduced, it would still take time for them to kick in, given the long maturation period for the current crops. The shortage is estimated to last until 2021. Rising demand for pure tequila, rather than blended variations, which tend to be cheaper, is also to blame for this upsetting news.

While smaller tequila producers are likely to be hit hardest, no one, not even giants like Patron and Jose Cuervo in the industry are immune to this alarming trend. According to Raul Garcia, President of the National Committee for Agave Production in Tequila, “We are sure this will have a strong impact on the big firms such as Cuervo or Sauza. “We don’t see that the problem will be resolved soon, and that’s what worries us.”

The price of the plant has also risen sharply as well, increasing from 3.85 pesos per kilo to 22. Higher production costs mean higher prices for consumers, which will making it harder for tequila to compete with other spirits. Shots of whiskey and vodka become a lot more preferable when they’re cheaper! Though, when it comes to cocktails, nothing can ever compare to limey, salt-rimmed margarita. Just be ready to spend a few more on them next happy hour.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Jessica is a former Associate Editor at Chowhound. Follow her on Twitter @volume_knob for updates on snacks and cats.
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