Veracruz is the main lime-growing area of Mexico, but lately weather issues have reduced the volumes coming out of this area. José Rodriguez, co-owner and partner in HTS México, says: “Our business have been exporting Mexican limes to Europe for over five years now, but last year was really tough, production-wise.”
Many challenges for limes in 2019
He explains: “The weather was relentless. There was no rain during the summer season, and the fruit had low quality and low sizes – we didn’t even have sizes 54, 48, or 42 available. The average number of exported limes from Mexico used to be around 80 containers a week, and in 2019 this number dropped down to 30 containers a week.”
He adds: “We do expect to see better numbers this year. I think the annual volume will have some improvement over last year’s and we hope to avoid similar difficult weather challenges. We’ll likely remain at an average level of 45-50 containers a week for the season. The years in which we did 80-90 containers on average are in the past. The Mexican lime business definitely went through an evolution in the past years, but we are certain that this is for the best.”
European market demands high quality
Generally, Mexican limes are exported to Europe from late April through late November. Rodriguez says: “In a regular season, the lime sales in Europe will end right before Christmas. This is because the quality of limes that is demanded by the European market is very high, and these are the times of year where we are able to supply the highest quality. But, every year we are closely tracking when the season kicks off – because there have been times where the balance between the quality and the local pricing wasn’t right until mid-May, so this is something we have to keep a close eye on.”
“We work with growing our own limes, but we also work with independent growers. There are many growers here in Mexico that do not have the right combination of product and/or interest to export their product to Europe, but they do have the right quality. So we make it our job to gather the products with the right quality from them and export these – all the while adhering to the highest standards of transparency, of course,” Rodriguez says.
Moving to a MG Price Model
One of the main points of focus for the company is to bring more equity to the lime business. “That is really the spirit of our business. In general, the lime business is conducted on an open consignment basis, but the conditions for growers under this model make it more challenging – especially due to the lack of official programs and support from the government,” says Rodriguez.
In the export numbers of Mexican limes to Europe, there is a marked reduction for the past 3-4 years. Rodriguez explains that this is because of the movement to the Minimum Guaranteed Price model for the Mexican exporters. “The Mexican lime business will be moving more and more to this model, and little by little we are finding European importers and new partners who are truly aware of this need.”
New products: Fresh pineapple
Last year, the company committed to expanding their product offering for the European market. One of products that the company will begin exporting to Europe soon are Mexican fresh pineapples. “The pineapples are also grown in Veracruz, though they are grown in the southern part of the state while the limes are grown in the northern part. We’ve been growing the pineapples for quite some time, but due to logistic reasons most of the product is destined for the US market. But the quality matches European demand so we were determined to work on developing the European markets – especially considering all the difficulties we are having with limes.”
“Our new brand, coming out this season, is called ‘Cielito Lindo’ and it is trademark registered even in Europe. This brand will include our limes, and our new products which are Mexican Fresh Pineapples and Mexican Canned Mango in light syrup. As a part of the development of our company, we will be attending Fruit Logistica as part of the Mexican Pavilion to help us diversify and search for the right partners for our new products,” Rodriguez concludes.
José Rodriguez and HTS México will be holding meetings at the Mexico Pavilion at Fruit Logistica in Hal 25.
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