I have been looking for concentrated lemon juice for weeks now. I always like to have some on hand not only for cooking but for one of my favorite beverage concoctions, a Clam Digger (I prefer lemon juice instead of lime, and lots of it.)
After finding yet another empty shelf at the supermarket I came home and googled "lemon shortage." And, well, yep. We have one. Apparently it isn't just here, it is an international shortage. In 2007, there was a horrible growing season in the European crops, and freezing weather in California and Argentina destroyed what should have been the backup supply. Add in drought conditions in Spain and Australia and lemon lovers are really screwed. Once the lemons become a rare commodity, more of them go to the markets as fresh because they can sell them for more. Concentrating them for bottled juice isn't as lucrative, hence the empty shelves every time I go to get a bottle.
From what I've read, the juice will start to get back on the shelves mid-September, but the shortage problem won't be totally alleviated until mid-2009, when this years crop is harvested, juiced, and bottled.
Since the bottles are gone and the fresh lemons are kind of expensive to buy and juice enough for some of my recipes, I thought my lemon consumption would now be limited to the lemonade mix in my cabinet. However, a few months ago I came across a box of something called True Lime next to the Splenda in the sugar aisle. I like to put it in my water because after years of guzzling soda and ice tea (the diet kinds) I cannot handle flavorless beverages. I have not tried the lemon version, but I did add some of the lime to my Clam Digger this morning and it was okay. Not great, not revolutionary, but it will do in a pinch. So there's that at least.