The Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries of Argentina, Luis Basterra confirmed that Argentina would send its first shipment of lemons to China after the opening of this market to this citrus in December 2019. The shipment, which will leave Buenos Aires on June 30, consists of 24 tons of fresh lemons produced in Tucuman and will arrive at the port of Hong Kong.
The Minister confirmed this on Monday, June 22 in a video conference with the Minister of Productive Development of Tucuman, Juan Luis Fernandez, and the head of Senasa, Carlos Paz. Fernando Carreras, Rodolfo Massone, and Matias Dunzelmann, from the Commercial Department of Citromax, represented the company in the video conference.
It should be noted that Argentina is the second-biggest exporter of lemon worldwide, after Spain. Depending on the quality of the product and the time of year, 75% of the production is destined to the industry, 8% to domestic consumption and 17% is exported as fresh fruit.
One of the requirements to export the fruit from Argentina to China is that the lemons be subjected to cold treatment (between 2 and 3 degrees) in transit to prevent fruit flies.
The exporters from Tucuman voice their opinions
Fernando Carreras, a representative of Citromax, highlighted that this year's market conditions were exceptional for lemons because of the COVID-19 pandemic. "The greatest protocol demands were related to cold treatments to ensure the absence of live fly larvae on the fruit. It's been proven that lemons don't host this pest, but the Chinese market requires cold treatment so that the fruit withstands the long journey,” he said. Carreras also said that they would send one container per week until the quality of the fruit improves as the season progresses.
He also said that, even though Hong Kong had previously received lemon from Tucuman, this will be the first time that the fruit will be distributed from there to mainland China, which is where the largest volume of consumers is located.
According to Carreras, China will be a significant destination in 2021: "Like all markets, China will gradually open up." He also said that, based on previous experiences in which they sold lemon juices and peels to China, Asian buyers prioritize “face-to-face contact. These relationships take a long time to establish. However, once you establish them and, if you comply with your end of the bargains, they are lasting relationships.”