“Our lemons have enjoyed high demand and good prices all over the global market,” said Ayse Ozler of Ozler. “Demand from the Middle East, Europe and Asia has been quite good, higher than in previous seasons, in fact.” Turkish lemon suppliers typically start exporting their fruit during September, about a month and a half before Spanish lemons edged them out of Europe. While prices at the beginning of that export window typically start at 0.70 Euro, prices this season were around 1.20 Euro at the outset of the season.
“Volumes from the Southern Hemisphere were low this year because of a frost in Argentina that cut their volumes by about 40 percent,” explained Ayse. “South African supplies of lemons also ran out early, so the gap in supplies was big, and prices for Turkish lemons were the highest we've seen.” Last year's Turkish lemon crop was also affected by frost, so local demand was already strong when the export window came around, further driving up prices. The early boon resulted in 30 percent more lemon export volume out of Turkey, when compared to the previous season.
The situation is now different, with Spanish and Italian supplies driving Turkish citrus out of Europe for the year and bringing down prices. But Ayse explained that the importance of Europe is diminishing for Turkish growers. Competition from Spanish fruit and tightened regulations concerning maximum residue limits has steadily decreased the amount of fruit that Turkish exporters ship to Europe. Russia used to be a big market, but problems there, both recent and long-standing, have made it an unattractive destination for Turkish traders. The major areas of expansion are now the Middle East and Asia.
“Demand from Europe is reducing, which could be due to prices and the promotion that Spanish fruit gets,” said Ayse. “But the Middle East and Asia have been accepting of this and are curious about our citrus, so the demand there has been increasing as they are happy with the quality of our fruit.”