After a successful return to the U.S. market, the Argentinian lemon industry is aiming towards boosting its market portfolio by opening new export destinations.
Speaking to Fresh Fruit Portal at last month’s PMA Fresh Summit held in Orlando, Florida, Pedro Omodeo of exporter Latin Lemon explained that along with the industry’s plans to steadily build a presence in the North American country, it is also hoping to gain a strong foothold in Asia.
In August this year, Argentina shipped its first lemons to Japan since 2003 following a visit from phytosanitary inspectors.
Omodeo said that the industry is hoping that successfully supplying a demanding market like Japan will help it to open up other important markets in the region, such as China.
“We think that if everything goes well between both countries’ governments, will be able to [begin exporting to China] by next year or 2020,” he said.
“There is already a formal presentation from the government of Argentina requesting the opening [of the market] … [we are] trying to make a protocol very similar to the one in Japan because the experience was good for the fruit arriving with cold treatment.”
Omodeo said that Tucumán region, where most of Argentina’s lemons are produced, has the potential to be a reliable supplier of high-quality fruit to global markets all over the world, with more and more organizations gaining certification by the All Lemon quality label.
“Between 75%-80% of the lemon exporting companies have adhered to this seal,” he said.
Speaking about Argentina’s return to the U.S., which last year reopened for the South American country after a 17-year hiatus, Omodeo said that this first season had gone very well, despite the strict export protocol.
“We exported close to 10,000 metric tons (MT) of lemons,” he said.
Argentina took advantage of an eight-week window after California’s season but before the heavy Mexican volumes, and Omodeo said the plan is to slowly and cautiously build up volumes.
“We are going to be careful. First, we want them to get to know our lemons, their characteristics … but without sending excessive volumes that only complicate exports. We want to be competitive in the commercial windows that the U.S. give us,” he said.
Currently, Argentina exports close to 20% of its lemon production, with 95% of that coming from the northwest area. Exports typically run from April through August, and Europe is the country’s leading market.