Mother Nature timed the start of Argentina’s citrus season well this year as overlap with the northern hemisphere was limited. “Spain and Turkey finished early, and thanks to strengthened demand from COVID-19 in February and March, the northern hemisphere market was relatively empty by the time we started shipping to Europe,” says Mariano Sangronis with Citromax.
Later start in US
The company delayed exports to the US until May. First of all, demand had slowed due to the impact of COVID-19 on the foodservice sector. In addition, later shipments made for a smooth transition between California and southern hemisphere production. “Demand for foodservice is now recovering, so it was a good decision to wait with retail programs until June.” All in all, demand for lemons is strong. The pandemic has made consumers more aware of the health benefits of lemons and the great source of vitamin C they are. Sangronis believes there is room to grow Argentina’s lemon exports to the US. “We are working on developing the US market during the summer window and I see most opportunities during the last part of the season, after California has finished and before Chile and Mexico come into full production.” Citromax expects to double its exports to the US this season, supporting its partners in food retail and food service.
Volumes up 40%
Sangronis is very optimistic about the season. “The weather was very good during spring and summer, and picking season was not disrupted by rains. As a result, we are seeing the best quality we have seen in the past two years. Now, closer to the end of harvest, we are experiencing some drought, which will impact final volumes,” Sangronis said. Despite the current dry weather, Citromax still expects its lemon volumes to increase almost 40 percent compared to last year. “Our younger orchards have come into production with high quality lemons in good volume,” he added.
First to export to China
Citromax supplies lemons to retail both directly and indirectly. “In addition, we distribute to the foodservice segment and to the open market, which gives us a wide commercial scope.” The company’s export program focuses on North America, Asia, and Europe with more than 20 countries receiving Citromax’ fresh lemons. This is the first year that lemons from Argentina have been granted access into China. “We are the first company to export fresh lemons to the People’s Republic of China and we hope to continue to learn and grow in this market.” Currently, the export program includes conventionally grown lemons only, but demand for organic product is steadily growing. “We are the largest organic lemon grower in the world and hope to supply our customers with organic product in the next few years.”
Lemons prepared for export to China.