According to the president of the Argentine Federation of Citrus (Federcitrus), Jose Carbonell, the opening of the Chinese market to Argentine lemons has generated great expectations in the sector. The first shipment to China, which is made up of 24 tons of fresh lemons produced by the Citromax company in Tucumán, will leave the port of Buenos Aires on board of the Maersk Labrea ship on Tuesday, June 30, to the Chinese port of Hong Kong. They have agreed to export a total of 130 tons to China this year.
Carbonell stressed that the opening of markets requires a long process in which phytosanitary measures are discussed in order to establish export protocols. "Opening the United States to our lemons within a special political framework took an enormous effort and had a great cost for the sector," Carbonell said referring to the arrival of Donald Trump to the presidency of that country. "In the first year, 2018, we exported 11,000 tons. In the second year, that volume increased to 22,000 tons."
“This year we hope to continue increasing it. We have similar expectations with China because lemon consumption is increasing there," stressed the head of Federcitrus. "The protocol with China can be useful to open South Korea, another market with high purchasing power, and a population of 50 million people."
"The twenty lemon exporters in the NOA have the Chinese market in their sights," he said. "However, everything depends on the production volumes, which were low this year," he added. According to Carbonell, citrus exports fell due to the general decline in fruit. "This year, the production volume is estimated at 350,000 tons, so we'll only be able to export half of what we exported in 2008."
"Production has been in decline since then, mainly because of the competitiveness of Argentina's citrus when compared to producers from the rest of the world," he said. "The profitability of the actors is insufficient to sustain their investment processes," he said, adding that "this situation is reversible, but we require adequate policies, trade agreements, and financing for exports."
The Ledesma company was the only company that, within this adverse framework for Argentine citrus exports, managed to increase its 2019 export volume when compared to 2018. According to estimates, this year it will repeat the trend. The company exported 31,807 tons of citrus, i.e. 2.64% more than in 2018.