EU late summer lemon prices halved as importers 'panicked', says Zeghers
The head of a Belgian fruit importer says lemon prices in the European market fell dramatically in late August and early September, and believes importers were largely responsible for the sudden decline.
He said this was mainly because some Dutch importers were concerned at the volumes still being shipped to the market from Southern Hemisphere suppliers as the season for some Northern Hemisphere countries was beginning.
"We had a very beautiful season with Spain from January until the end of May, but then in May there were not enough lemons for the market, so the prices went up," he told www.freshfruitportal.com.
But as opposed to flooding to market to take advantage of the high prices, Maes said South Africa, Argentina and Chile 'played the game quite well' by sending limited volumes over much of the summer to avoid putting pressure on the market.
"Everybody started quite light, the volumes were around 30-40% less than the importers expected. I would normally import four or five containers a week but it was just two or three. Then at the end of August and beginning of September they sent a lot," he said.
"For some big importers in Holland there was a panic reaction. I think that they still had a lot of stock and there were still a lot of volumes coming into Europe, so they dropped the prices.
"In two weeks we went from €30 to €15 per box. It was so quick that I didn't understand it - it was not necessary to drop 50% in two weeks."
He added the last of the Argentine lemons of the season were now arriving in the European market, and the Spanish deal had kicked off around the first week of October. Turkey is also currently supplying the lemon market, he added.
"Now we are still seeing high prices for Spanish lemons, around €24 to €27, but I think soon the prices will go down also," he said.
"I have received some information from my suppliers, they say there will be some very good quality from Spain, if it does not start to rain. There will also be a bigger production than last year."