Argentina: Many lemon growers switching to oranges amid market shifts

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Argentina: Many lemon growers switching to oranges amid market shifts

The southern hemisphere’s citrus season is underway, with Argentina’s Federcitrus projecting a decrease in lemon exports due to unfavorable weather.

Argentina once held the top spot as the world’s leading citrus producer, but poor returns caused by a rise in global production have diminished the crop’s profitability.

Argentine Citrus Federation (Federcitrus) President José Carbonell told that despite production doubling in the past 20 years, demand remains unvarying.

“As a result, there’s a production surplus and, consequently, prices dipped," he explained.

Argentina’s northeastern regions, namely Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán, Catamarca, La Rioja, and Santiago del Estero, host the strongest citrus industrial cluster in the world. The area is commonly known as NOA and is mainly dedicated to lemon, accounting for 95% of Argentina’s overall production.

However, Carbonell pointed out that many growers are turning to orange cultivation as “valuation, especially of the industrial derivatives of orange, is very well considered in world trade”.

“Lemon hectares are being replaced by hectares of orange. It is a trend that I think is going to last for a few years," he emphasized.

Despite the shift in profitability, Carbonell said that the NOA citrus cluster is presently working at full capacity.

"We project that similar quantities (to last year's) will be milled, but they will be significant quantities with complicated prices. I estimate that this year 1,300,000 tons of lemon will be milled for juice, oil, and peel".

He explained that one ton of lemon yields 5 to 6 kilos of oil, around 140 to 150 liters of concentrated juice, and 50 kg of dehydrated peel.

Related articles: Argentina closes record cherry season amid shrinking acreage

Viral video

A recent Instagram post depicting a truck dumping what appears to be tons of Argentine mandarins due to low sales sparked concern among the citrus industry.

Regarding the now-viral video, Carbonell explained that this year’s mandarin and orange production has grown considerably “and seeing the auspicious circumstances for oranges, factories are working flat out with the fruit."

He added that the mandarin is a subsidiary industry, "mandarins are also milled, but the priority is the orange and surely that truck was harvested for the factory and at that time no factory could mill it. But it is not significant.”

He concluded that this is not yet a matter of concern, "because the mandarin is well consumed in the domestic market and is also being exported fresh".

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