Argentina is the country with the largest lemon cluster worldwide. In 2017, it produced 65% of the lemon from the southern hemisphere, 1.3 million tons. Approximately 1 million tons are destined for the production of essential oil, concentrated juice, and dehydrated peels. The remaining 300,000 tons are exported as fresh fruit.
The largest producing area is Tucuman, which concentrates 80% of this agro-industry. There are some 50,000 hectares planted and 50,000 direct jobs. This activity generates about 300 million dollars per year.
Argentina industrializes 77% of the crop and exports 18% of it fresh. It is the world's leading lemon processor and the main exporter of concentrated lemon juice, pulp, essential oil, and dehydrated peels.
The peel is used to extract pectin, a product used as a thickener in the food and pharmaceutical industry. The oil is expensive, as 3 to 4 lemons are needed to obtain 1 drop of oil. It is used by the food industry, as a flavoring, and to manufacture cosmetics, perfumes, and cleaning products.
The average FOB price per kilo stands at nearly $ 35 per kilo. The main chemical constituent is limonene, more than 60% of the total. The non-alcoholic beverage industry is the main consumer and uses it to flavor soft drinks and juices. The world markets an average of 14,000 tons of lemon essential oil, 40% of which is Argentine.
The Obispo Colombres Experimental Station has been relevant in the insertion of Tucuman in the world markets in technological production aspects; from the obtaining of virus-free materials, the testing of varieties, and an industrial plant from where the first exports of fresh fruit came. This public-private management institution is an example for other regions of the country in adding value processes.
Source: Mitre y el Campo / clarín.com