Argentine lemon exports to decline 25 percent - USDA

Argentine lemon exports to decline 25 percent - USDA

Argentine lemon exports are estimated to decline to 190,000 metric tons (MT) this coming season, a 25 percent decrease in comparison to last year, according to a report by the USDA.

The projected decline is due to a decrease in production, available fruit supply in the Northern Hemisphere’s fruit-producing countries and strong competition from South Africa.

Exporters are also concerned about the continued threat of fruit rejections by the EU due to the presence of Citrus Black Spot (CBS) as occurred in the 2019-20 season.

However, negotiations are taking place regarding revised protocols with the EU and the market is expected to reopen in the future.

At the beginning of the season, local contacts were optimistic about Argentina’s export prospects due to decreased fruit supply in the northern hemisphere, increased demand for products containing vitamin C and the opening of new significant markets to Argentine lemons last year.

However, beginning in May 2020, EU member states reported the presence of CBS on imported Argentine lemons and oranges, causing the EU to reject several shipments and temporarily halt imports.

Argentina chose to voluntarily withdraw from the EU market in mid-July 2020. 

While Argentina had already shipped the bulk of its annual exports to the EU, an estimate of about 20,000MT of lemons had to be reoriented to processing and non-traditional markets.

For 2020-21, lemon exports to the U.S. are estimated to reach about 40,000MT.

However, this is an uncertain estimate due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on consumption patterns. 

Argentine lemon production forecasts at 1.03MMT, a 30 percent decrease in comparison to last year, due to cold damage early in the season and dry growing conditions.

A drought is constraining production of all citrus fruit in Argentina by reducing fruit size.

This season fresh lemons for processing are forecast to decrease significantly to 731,000 MT, down 31.5 percent compared to 2019-20, as a result of the decrease in production. 

The decrease is not expected to have a major impact as processors have large stocks of already processed lemon products. 

During January-October 2020, prices of all citrus fruit continued to fall due to competition by other Southern Hemisphere citrus suppliers, primarily South Africa.

The highest prices for lemons during January-October 2020 was $US 748 per MT in March, while the lowest was $US 560 per MT in August, the last data point recorded in the report.