The Turkish lemon season is kicking off tomorrow, with the Meyer lemons being the first variety of the season. The pandemic has lead to a lot of measures being taken at one Turkish fruit exporter, but the expectations for the season are positive. Production will be up by 35 per cent compared to the previous season and demand for the Meyer variety is increasing every year.
In preparation of the upcoming lemon season in Turkey, Eren Tarim has invested in increased storage capacity and other advancements for the factory. According to Coskun Eren, head of marketing for Eren Tarim, they’re ready for the start of the season. “The work for the lemon season is starting again for sure. We’ve been very busy for the past month, especially preparing to have 300+ workers in the factory with the Covid-19 pandemic still present, preparing the product, informing customers about the season, planning production programs, managing the new changes to the factory and so on.
Apart from this, we have increased our cold room storage capacity to 3000 tons this year, renovated our existing cold rooms and ethylene systems. Another important thing I should add here is the analysis and MRL control system that we have. We are always striving to improve in Eren and this year we have again improved our MRL control system, adding two more personnel just for this purpose and working with an additional laboratory for more precaution, we can safely say that we will have not have residue or biological agent problems. This sense of security provided by our MRL control system is certainly much appreciated by our retailer partners for our long-term citrus programs.”
As the pandemic took over the global trade of fresh produce, Eren Tarim has done what it can to put a prevention system in place, allowing them to offer produce that has not been touched by a human at all: “We have put a complete COVID-19 prevention system in place, which consists of social distancing enforcement, regular temperature measurements, disinfectant and mask distribution, educational leaflets, improved ventilation, every day cleaning of all surfaces in the factory and tracking systems to identify and isolate any sick people and whom they contacted with. We expect no breaks and no downtime for the whole year,” Eren explains.
“Apart from this, we are encouraging customers to try our “net” packaging which can be arranged between 0.5 to 3 KG in weight. This will help to accommodate “no touch policies” especially for the supermarket shelves to help prevent the spread of the virus. We are more than capable of arranging packaging types suitable for any retailers Covid-19 policy, all they have to do is ask for it. We also have an automatic filling machine in our factory which can basically fill boxes without any human interference. If requested we can also provide this production option to ensure no human interaction during selection and packing.”
The cleaning of all work space at Eren Tarim
There are different starting times for the varieties that Eren Tarim exports. They expect to be able to supply lemons until the end of July: “We have three varieties of lemon in Turkey. The Meyer, the Interdonato and the Lamas. With the information we have now, it seems Meyer will start on the 3rd of September, and last until the end of January. The Interdonato will start between the 25th and 30th of September and also last until the end of January. Finally, the Lamas variety will start between the 25th of October and the 5th of November, while ending around the end of March. However the Lamas will also be put in storage, and we expect we can ship the lemons until the end of July.”
When it comes to total volumes for Turkish lemons this year, a significant increase is expected. This is partly due to the previous season being cut short by the government, Eren says. “We’re expecting around an increase of around 20 per cent for the total citrus season overall and around 35 per cent increase when compared to last season. The citrus season of last year wasn’t that good overall, the export ban our government imposed before the season ended cost us quite a bit of volume. This year, I believe people all around the world will consume more citrus due to its immune system boosting qualities.”
The weather has caused there to be more of the Meyer lemons and less of the Lamas variety. Eren isn’t too worried, as the Meyer variety is getting more popular every year. “When it comes to the weather, it was a double edged sword this season. The weather was great for the Meyer and Lamas, but not as good for the Interdonato variety. The latter will have less volumes available this year compared to its usual amount but still similar to last year’s performance, while Meyer lemons will have more volumes. The production of Lamas will be about the same as last year. This creates a unique opportunity, especially for our main markets which are EU and Russia, to try out more Meyer lemons this year.
Normally people are not used to consuming Meyer lemons, however we see an increase in demand every year, with its peak happening last year. Meyer lemons are a hybrid of Oranges, Mandarins and Lemons, with a sweetish taste, thin skin and good juice content. The Meyers are smaller in size and round in shape. The main reason the demand has increases over the years can be explained by pricing, Meyer is significantly cheaper than Interdonato. Customers have picked up on it and are beginning to explore the Meyer lemon as well, therefore we expect to have a great Meyer season and we encourage every one of our customers to try at least one truck before having preconceptions about this variety!”
“Demand overall is good so far. We are happy to say a lot of companies are asking about the start of the season inquire about the prices and sizes already. We also expect solid demand from the Far East and North American regions as well. This is an important thing to note since we value our overseas markets a lot. As for the prices, the pandemic has increased our intake costs by quite a margin, we have to work with less people, energy costs are higher, import costs are higher, the producers costs are higher.. of course price will be affected by this. Despite all this, I see the current pricing for the Turkish lemon still marketable and I’m always available to send over some quotes. We welcome any who aim for a mutual beneficial partnership, as we have done for the past 27 years ever since we started in the fresh produce industry.” Eren concludes.