The Spanish lemon campaign started more than two weeks early this year, as did the grapefruit one. For the time being, the lemon market is quiet, while grapefruit sales are livelier, given the still scarce supply.
"We have been marketing Primofiori lemons for 3 weeks," says María Dolores Pelegrín, from the sales department of the Murcian company Apemar. “The campaign has kicked off more than two weeks early because Argentina stopped shipping lemons to Europe this summer due to issues with pest detections. Three weeks ago, there were only lemons from South Africa and some from Chile and Uruguay, but the little remaining supply was no longer of good quality, which has made us switch to the Spanish production earlier. There were Spanish exporters that started even before us.”
According to the exporter, the lack of good sizes is determining this year's sales. “Nobody wants calibers 5 or even 4. The demand is very calm, even though the average prices are similar to last year's. Although at the end of the Primofiori lemon campaign there was a very strong demand for lemons due to the COVID-19 effect, and we were able to sell our entire production, I don't think we'll see a repeat of that this campaign."
High demand for grapefruit due to gap in the supply
In the case of grapefruit, the situation, for now, is different. Spanish Star Rubi grapefruits are already reaching the European markets.
“There is a livelier demand for grapefruit, which we started harvesting about two weeks ago, about 20 days ahead of last season, although with limited quantities for now. The reason for this early start is the early end of the South African grapefruit campaign, which has left an empty market. At the moment, we are quite alone in the market and we are receiving many calls. The production from Israel is starting to arrive, but only small volumes and with a still greenish skin. Starting so early, however, has been a challenge, since although we have early farms, we have to work hard in the selection of sizes and speed up the degreening,” said María Dolores Pelegrín.
Grapefruit prices have started at good levels due to the gap left by South Africa. “The last South African grapefruits were sold for over € 1.10 per kilo and at the moment ours are bought at just over one Euro per kilo. However, as soon as Israel has more volumes and Turkey enters the market, prices will fall a little.
Apemar is marketing its lemons and grapefruits both in the domestic market and in France, Poland, Italy and Norway, among other European countries. “From late November, when the fruit will have a longer shelf life, we'll be able to ship overseas. For the time being, the markets are quiet and both exporters and importers are very cautious. We cannot forget that the Horeca channel is still affected and this is taking a toll on sales,” she says.