Europe's summer of lemon scarcity
Helfer France S.A. Rungis buyer Sébastien Morlet, said there was a shortage of lemons due to a range of factors.
"Spain's Primofiore variety has stopped shorter than last year finishing at the beginning of May when it used to be the end of June. People have switched to Verna faster," he said.
"Countries other than Europe, such as Russia have bought bigger amounts of Verna from Spain and because Eureka was not available from Argentina, Verna became very short."
Morlet estimated the market would be short of Verna in a week to 15 days, in contrast to last year when it was available throughout the whole of the summer.
He said lemon undersupply was reflected in wholesale prices with lemons currently fetching 28% more than last year at €1.25 per kilo.
Cobana Fruchtring GmbH citrus category manager Boris Morgado, agreed supply was significantly lower.
"Up until now there has been a lot less fruit from overseas. The season is later because of the dry period in Argentina - for two to three weeks there was lack of water for the fruit to grow and when they wanted to start picking they had two weeks of rain."
South Africa's lemon volumes are lower this season with a higher proportion of smaller sized fruit which has led to the country upping exports to the Middle East in favor of Northern Europe and the U.K.
Typically, supply of South African and Argenine lemons to Europe runs from May until the end of September.
Morlet claimed an unusually wet cold summer in Northern Europe has dampened consumer appetite for lemons.
"The U.K., Holland, Belgium and Northern France have had very bad rainy weather and this is not good for lemon consumption which is associated with seafood and nice weather."
Morgado disagreed, claiming other fruit were more weather sensitive.
"Lemons are needed for cooking and seafood. They are the most stable form of consumption.
"We have lower sales for apples and pears when the weather is bad and oranges are sold faster when it's cold because people think they need to eat more to prevent colds because of the vitamin C levels."
Related stories: European undersupply benefits South African lemon sales