Argentine citrus: Production and exports update

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Argentine citrus: Production and exports update

The latest semi-annual report on Argentine citrus from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service updated the South American country's fresh lemon production at 1.7 million metric tons (MT) for the marketing year (MY) 2023-2024. In a previous estimate, the entity put citrus production at 1.9 million MT.

This revision, the report states, is attributed to unexpected weather conditions, such as higher-than-usual temperatures and rainfall during harvest, which impacted fruit size, and damaged numerous trees. Although lemon size is smaller, reducing overall production, growers expect high-quality fruit.

Additionally, the citrus harvest started 30 days later than normal, also due to weather factors.

"Despite these challenges, the lemon sector has seen significant investments in new production techniques and technology over the last decade. In particular, 70-75% of Argentina's total lemon production is destined for the export of processed products, such as essential oils, frozen pulp, and dehydrated peel. These improvements have helped the industry's adaptability to a highly competitive market," the report states.

Oranges and mandarins

For the same period, production of fresh oranges is forecast at 650,000 MT, while mandarines are forecast at 280,000 MT.

The decline in production of both sweet citrus fruits is due to a combination of factors, including weather conditions such as a prolonged drought and untimely rains during the harvest period. These conditions damaged many orange and mandarin trees. As a result, fruit size and yields were negatively affected, reducing overall production.

As a result, growers are shifting their focus to ensure maximum quality for the amount of fruit available.


Lemon exports are expected to reach 220,000 MT, 12% less than the last official USDA estimate (250,000 MT). In the case of sweet citrus, shipments of fresh oranges in MY 2023-2024, would reach 35,000 MT (-53%), and in mandarins 24,000 MT (-57%).

"During the first three months of 2024, there was a drop in the exported volume of lemons of 21% compared to the same period of 2022, which is explained by the drop in Russian demand. As a result, the Argentine citrus sector is expected to focus its exports, with a significant concentration, on the U.S. market. Approximately 34% of exports were shipped to the United States, which represents a notable increase over the 21% market share during the same period in 2022."

However, efforts to diversify into non-traditional markets, such as Albania and Ukraine, are noteworthy. In 2023, the European Union maintained its status as the largest export market for Argentina's fresh lemons, with 37% of total exports. Russia moved to third position with 16% of exports.

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