USDA Gain Report - Citrus Annual

Argentine lemon exports to US estimated to reach 30,000 tons in 2020

Fresh lemon production for MY 2019/2020 is forecast at 1.6 million tons, down 11% from 2018/19, as trees cyclically lower production in response to a heavy blossom the prior marketing year. Orange and tangerine production is projected at 720,000 tons and 390,000 tons, down 10% and 13% respectively, due to unfavorable weather conditions which affected fruit blossom.

MY 2019/2020 lemon exports are forecast at 300,000 tons, up 25% from 2018/19 primarily due to lower global supplies, reduced domestic demand for processing and expanded export market opportunities. Sweet citrus exports are expected to decrease slightly to 70,000 tons for oranges and 35,000 tons for tangerines. Smaller production and relatively high production costs have reduced Argentina’s ability to compete in international markets for sweet citrus against other Southern Hemisphere exporters, mainly South Africa.

Domestic consumption of lemons for MY 2019/2020 is forecast to remain stable at 150,000 tons, and fresh orange and tangerine consumption is projected to fall to 300,000 tons and 220,000 tons, respectively, due to smaller production.

The reason for the 2019/2020 estimate of fresh lemon production -at 1.6 million tons- is an 11 percent “lighter” season for lemons as the lifecycle of trees recovers from a heavy blossom season in MY 2018/2019.

In addition, the delay in the harvest of the past marketing year will impact production levels of MY 2019/2020 as necessary plant maintenance must be conducted on an accelerated schedule. Due to the current economic crisis, many producers have decreased investments in grove maintenance and some independent producers are in poor financial condition after having to discard fruit in 2018/19.

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