So far 2019 has been a more positive season for limes in the European market, following last year which saw low demand and low prices, according to Hamza Sethi from BE Fruit who provides a service for lime growers in Mexico and Brazil to supply European customers directly.
“The beginning of 2019 started slowly but prices reached a peak of 9 Euro per box between March and mid-May. The priced has dipped again in the last few months to between 3-5 Euro per box.”
Hamza said that he would be happy with an average of 5 Euro per box. “Last week prices were 3.5 – 4 Euro per box, we are seeing around 5 Euro this week and are expecting it to increase to 6-7 Euro next week.”
He states that this is not a normal situation for this time of the year but volumes from both Mexico and Brazil have been considerably lower than last year.
“Mexico should start shipping limes in mid-April but there was no rain in Martinez de la Torre, the main production area for Europe, and shipments were delayed by a few weeks. Also, in Brazil we are at the end of the peak season, we are now seeing lower quality and volumes due to a cold front which brought rain to the production areas. The volumes from Brazil will reduce significantly over the coming weeks.’’
Producers now concentrate more on sending quality rather than unnecessary volume, according to Hamza. The demand will of course fluctuate, as the demand is greater in hot weather, but if the quality remains consistent, the limes market would remain stable across 2019.
“I think many producers learned their lesson in 2018 when a lot of poor-quality limes were sent, in large volumes to Europe, which led to extremely low prices.”
In addition to quality, European customers now place a greater emphasis on producers having appropriate accreditation. The demand for certification proving that producers not only follow good agricultural practices, but also ensure that they fulfill the social responsibility aspects of their business and are committed to workers health, safety & welfare.
‘’For example, we at Be Fruit, for both production & packing have Global Gap, but in addition to this we have the accreditations of HACCP, SMETA & GRASP, as all our Retail customers demand this.’
"We are seeing a small increase in demand for limes in Europe, compared to previous years. Brazil is the largest producer of limes in the world followed by Mexico. Other countries such as Columbia, Peru, Guatemala & Vietnam also send Limes to Europe, but never on the same scale as Brazil or Mexico.
‘’I tend to find customers prefer limes from Brazil & Mexico as the volume, quality and colour is more consistent. Brazil supplies Europe 12 months of the year while Mexico is generally for around 9 months, and the volumes are sufficient enough to cover the demand."
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