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Mexico City, Mar 10 (EFE).- Cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and foods are among the products being made from agave in Mexico, where the plant provides the raw material for tequila and mezcal, but the cactus is in short supply, pushing up prices.
"We are clearly seeing a rise in the price of agave because this has always been the industry that feels it the most," Mexican Mezcal Quality Regulation Council, or Comercam, president Hipocrates Nolasco told Efe.
In the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico's main producer of mezcal, a kilo of agave was going for less than half a peso ($0.04) three years ago.
The price of a kilo of agave is now four pesos ($0.30) and estimates are that it could hit eight or nine pesos ($0.70) in the next three years.
Mezcal is gaining more market share in Mexico and around the world, rivaling tequila and pushing up production of the distilled liquor.
The western state of Jalisco is the birthplace of tequila, the Mexican national beverage.
Agave is also being used to make pharmaceuticals, providing a coating that can extend their shelf life, Nolasco said.
The plant can be used to treat people with diabetes, a common illness in Mexico, because it has glucose, the Comercam chief said.
Agave is used in beverages, breads and pastries for diabetics, Nolasco said.