Argentina: Exports up a quarter for All Lemon in challenging season
"This year's lemon production was set to rise by almost 60 per cent over the 2014 season, including fruit destined for processing purposes," All Lemon president Romain Corneille.
"We were pleased to confirm this crop forecast as the anticipated increase was a sign that we would meet the requirements of our clients and ship our fruit to a greater number of destinations too."
She added although All Lemon did not return to the traditional volumes of what is considered a 'normal' year, this was only because of complications caused by adverse weather.
"It is important to remember that in 2014 we experienced a very poor crop in production terms (some 750,000 tonnes) with volumes falling to an all-time historic low," she said.
"This is why the following year we had an increase that appeared to be enormous."
Despite the larger crop, overall exports only rose by 25% against 2014 given that it was a very difficult campaign to manage in terms of quality.
All Lemon's members had to double their usual quality control efforts, resulting in very low output from each member’s packhouse as the companies did their utmost to adhere to the quality assurances guaranteed by the quality seal.
"High summer temperatures followed by continual and heavy rainfall at the start of this year were the key factors behind the difficulties that we faced when it came to monitoring fruit quality this year," All Lemon vice president Carlos Parravicini said.
"Furthermore, it is important to note that once the 2015 season started, the poor weather conditions only served to complicate loading operations in a way that we had not experienced in a long time.
"We had an extremely rainy winter. The area where we grow lemons is different to other production areas around the world in that our winters are usually very dry, but this was clearly not the case this past season. Nevertheless, the companies who are audited by ALL LEMON did their utmost to meet the volume requirements of their clients."
Economics behind 2015 season
The 2015 season was also marked by a complicated and different economic panorama, which varied considerably to that of previous seasons.
"This has been a very interesting year for lemons from Argentina," said Ricardo Trapani, director of F.G.F Trapani, one of the companies audited by All Lemon.
"We have noted strong prices within the European market, in particular. In 2015 we noticed a greater stability of prices overall, which was in marked contrast to 2014.
"The season began with higher prices which were maintained before increasing slowly and gradually, but never quite reaching the extraordinary peaks that were recorded in 2014."
He said that to this must be added the negative impact of the strengthening U.S. dollar against the euro.
"Most of our lemons are sold in European currencies but returns are converted back into dollars before re-entering the country," he said.
Trapani also noted that prices in Russia were attractive at a local currency level, but in the final equation the devaluation of the rouble also played a key role in eroding the FOB prices, which are measured in dollars.
"The devaluation of the local Russian currency, as opposed to the dollar, was almost 50 per cent," he said.
Market access to the U.S.
All Lemon said that the phytosanitary issues that were pending in the U.S. with regards to lemons arriving from Argentina have now been scientifically refuted.
Representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) last July visited to Argentina’s north-western provinces of Tucumán, Salta, Jujuy and Catamarca.
"We hope that the USA will now begin the process of public consultation during which the various stakeholders from both countries can make their comments with regards to the proposed import regulations for shipments of lemons from the north-west of Argentina to the USA," said Daniel Lucci, director of Citrusvil, another company belonging to the All Lemon scheme.
"Undoubtedly, we have made great progress and the meticulous scientific work that has been carried out in Argentina, together with the support provided by ALL LEMON, has been crucial in demonstrating the quality and safety of our fruit."