US lemon supplies unlikely to improve until next month

Lemon supplies in the US remain very tight, with the situation not seeing any improvement. The main cause at the moment is the extreme and prolonged heat in California, which has damaged the lemon crop and placed pressure on domestic supply. Mexico too, is producing a lower amount as a result of a harsher winter which placed the trees under stress.

"Over the last month and more, lemon supplies have been very short," noted William Ison of Earth Source Trading. "The California crop has been hit hard by the extreme heat in the region. Extended temperatures of over 100 degrees has stressed the trees and we are seeing a much higher percentage of fallen fruit. This has been a big hit to domestic supply. There are no issues with quality, it's simply a severe lack of product."

Markets remain very high
With demand greatly exceeding supply, prices are very high and look to stay that way. In fact, there is a chance they may climb even higher before supplies are expected to improve following the start of California's District 3 next month. 



"The markets are going to be a challenge over the next few weeks," Ison observed. "Prices are very high and are expected to climb, with no relief expected until at least September. This week, USDA figures show prices for Fancy lemons above $50.00 a box, with Choice grade above $40.00. That is a lot higher than is typical for this time of year. As you'd expect, there are not many ads or promotions running currently due to the short supply."

Argentine imports not making visible impact
South America is a major supplier at this time of year and supplies from Chile and, to a lesser extent, Uruguay, are steady. Volume from Argentina was expected to make an impact in the US market this year with its much-anticipated return. The reality however is very different, with a rather modest re-entry to the US market for this significant producer.

"Currently the main supply is from South America, particularly Chile, with also a small amount from Uruguay and Argentina," Ison explained. "There has not been a lot of impact from Argentine lemons. Nowhere near as much volume has arrived as was forecast at the start of the season. Many people thought there would be much more volume, but in reality arrivals have been few and far between."



Lemon and lime combo bag makes appearance
Earth Source Trading recently launched a combo mesh bag containing both lemons and limes. Apart from providing a different option for retailers and consumers, they appear to have come just at the right time considering the current state of lemon prices. Branded "Green Bee", they are available in both conventional and organic as well as various weight options.

"The Green Bee combo bag is a new option that combines both lemons and limes, mixed together in the one bag," Ison shared. "This saves SKU space by rolling two items into one as well as helping to offset the higher lemon prices. There are multiple different sizes depending on what the customer wants, including 36x 1lb, 18x 2lb, 12x 3lb, and 10x 4lb. We have presented it at United Fresh, the Organic Produce Summit and they will also be displayed at PMA in October." 

For more information:
William Ison 
Earth Source Trading
Tel: +1 (717) 721-2850

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