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商业 - 消费品

从大数据看“柠檬危机”

Courtney Subramanian 2014年05月20日

柠檬价格连创新高,令美国人高呼“柠檬危机”来了,但通过大数据分析历年柠檬的价格表明,柠檬定价受季节性因素影响较大,春季历来是价格高点,但随着产量在夏季回升,柠檬的价格不久便会下降,现在这种势头已经开始了,“危机”即将解除。

    今年的五月五日节,美国人民喜爱的玛格丽特酒里可能将见不到柠檬片的身影了。但是大范围的柠檬短缺持续的时间可能不会像很多人一开始想的那么久。

    正如最近媒体所报道的,在墨西哥的极端天气、柠檬黄龙病泛滥以及果农受贩毒集团暴力洗劫等多重因素作用下,墨西哥的柠檬已然很难出口到美国。这对墨西哥的北方邻居产生了重大影响,因为美国有97%的柠檬都是从墨西哥进口的。

    去年美国柠檬的价格飙升了400%,一箱40磅重的柠檬的价格已经上涨到了100美元,相比之下前年美国的柠檬价格每箱只有15到20美元。柠檬短缺的原因有一部分是因为上年墨西哥中部地区的暴雨使收成损失惨重,而作为另一个柠檬主要产区的科利马州则遇到了黄龙病的肆虐。(黄龙病是影响全球柑桔类水果产量的主要病害)美国的佛罗里达州也发现了青果病的案例,而加利佛尼亚州又遭遇了严重的干旱,难以弥补进口柠檬的不足。

    与此同时,在墨西哥的柠檬产区米却肯州境内,有一个叫做“圣殿骑士团”的贩毒集团对果农们形成了很大威胁。“圣殿骑士团”原来是已被捣毁的贩毒集团“米却肯家族”的一支。在骚乱和暴力的逼迫下,当地的企业主包括果农纷纷走上街头对贩毒集团进行抗议示威。墨西哥政府已经部署军队镇压骚乱,并敦促民间武装在5月10日前停火。

    虽然毒贩和枪战听起来很吓人,但眼下这场柠檬危机却可能并不像我们想象的那样无解。根据企业软件公司SAP的数据分析集团的分析显示,人们可能忽略了价格的季节性波动。通过对美国食品和药品监督管理局(USDA)发布的市场信息的分析,SAP公司发现,由于冬季产量较低,柠檬的价格历来在春季较高,这也就意味着随着产量在夏季回升,柠檬的价格不久便会下降,而且现在这种势头已经开始了。

    Americans may have had to enjoy Cinco de Mayo margaritas sans lime this year, but the widespread shortage of the citrus fruit may be a bit more fleeting than originally thought.

    As previously reported, the potent combination of severe weather in Mexico, the spread of the citrus-greening disease huanglongbing (HLB), and the extortion of lime farmers by drug cartels has made it pretty difficult to export the round, green fruit to the United States. The ripple was felt across Mexico's neighbor to the north as a vast majority (97%) of limes are imported from Mexico.

    Prices have soared 400% over the last year, resulting in limes selling for upwards of $100 per 40-pound box, compared to the $15 to $20 cases just a year ago. The shortage is partly caused by heavy rain last season in central Mexico while another lime hub, Colima, experienced the spread of HLB. Florida has also reported cases of citrus greening while California is gripped by severe droughts, making it difficult to compensate on lime crops.

    Now, The Knights Templar, a drug cartel formerly part of the now-dismantled La Familia Michoacána, is reportedly threatening farmers in the lime-producing state of Michoacán. Turmoil and violence have swept the region as business owners, including lime farmers, rally together to fend off the drug cartel. Mexican government officials have deployed military to quell the fighting and are urging the vigilante groups to ceasefire by May 10.

    But a drug war aside, the lime crisis may not be as dire as we think. According to analysis by the data analytics group of the business software company SAP, the numbers tell a different story -- one that suggests that people are forgetting the seasonality of pricing. By crunching data from U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA) Market News, SAP found that prices are historically higher in the spring due to low production in the winter, which means a price drop is on the horizon -- and already beginning -- as production picks up this summer.       

    SAP公司的高级分析主管尼尔•史密斯表示,柠檬产量的季节性与定价之间的关系可以利用进一步的分析来确定。但是从市场定价的差异化可以看出,不同的地区在如何应对价格的异常走高。如下图所示,芝加哥和底特律等地的柠檬价格相比之下要低于费城和波士顿等地,后两座城市的柠檬价格高达每箱120美元。

    Nic Smith, senior director of analytics at SAP, acknowledges that the relationship between the seasonality of limes and pricing is an area that could use further analysis. But differentiation in market pricing, Smith notes, is an interesting glimpse at how different regions are grappling with price disruption. As the map illustrates, Chicago and Detroit are experiencing lower prices compared to cities like Philadelphia and Boston, where cases go for as high as $120.

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