Mexico is the leading lemon and lime producer and exporter

Lemons are extremely important if we consider the number of applications they can be used for, unlike any other agricultural product. The most important part of lemons is their juice, which can make up to 50% of their weight.

Each fruit contains 0.5 mg of vitamin C, i.e. 71% of the daily requirement of an adult person. Lemons help fight against the flu thanks to their antiseptic action and they stimulate the immune system.

Large quantities of pasteurised juice are used in the beverage industry, while the food industry uses a lot of lemon essential oil. 

Finally, lemon essence is one of the staples of the fragrance industry.

Lemon demand has increased quite a lot over the past few years. This is very good news as, over the past few decades, demand had been constant and reliable.

The processing (juice, essential oils) and food industries have been absorbing more and more lemon quantities.

Consumption has increased due to their more frequent introduction in low-calorie diets and their use by great chefs.

Global production
According to Informatore Agrario (no. 13/2017, page 30), recent USDA data showed an increase in the 2017 global lemon and lime production, which reached 7,252,000 tons against the 7,005,000 of the previous season.

This was due mostly to the good weather conditions in the EU, especially in Spain, Italy and Greece, and to the drop in production in Argentina, Turkey and the US.

Main producer, exporter and importer countries

Mexico is the leading lemon and lime producer (2.4 million tons), followed by the EU (1.55 million tons), Argentina (782 thousand tons) and Turkey (640 thousand tons). 

On a global level, most of the produce is destined to fresh consumption (approx. 5 million tons). Two million tons were destined to industrial processing this season, a slight increase compared to the previous campaign.

The main exporters are: Mexico (630 thousand tons), Turkey (425 thousand tons), Argentina (280 thousand tons), South Africa (245 thousand tons) and United States (115 thousand tons).

The main importers are: United States (640 thousand tons), EU (400 thousand tons) and Russia (190 thousand tons).

The most popular cultivars worldwide are: Eureka, especially in the southern hemisphere; Fino, especially in Spain (in Murcia) and Verna, the favourite of Spanish producers.

Lemon production in Italy
According to Informatore Agrario (n. 13/2017 a pag. 30), ISTAT data for 2016 refer that cultivated areas in Italy reached 21,222 hectares in 2016, producing 440,560 tons in total.

Most of the fruit is cultivated in Sicily (384,458 ton), with peaks in Syracuse (128,000 tons) and Catania (112,000 ton).

The most popular varieties in Italy are: Feminello siracusano, Lunario, Interdonato, Limone di Sorrento, Limone di Procida.

Lemon production in Italy has an exceptional quality, so much so that the European Union has recognised the PGI marks of Limone di Siracusa, al Limone Interdonato di Messina, al Limone di Sorrento, al Limone Costa di Amalfi, al Limone Femminello del Gargano and Limone di Rocca imperiale.

After an extraordinary 2015/16 season with excellent prices, producers were partly disappointed by the new campaign, which was more in line with the usual trends.

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