Despite the drop in global lemon production, which this year reached 1.5 million tons compared to 1.85 million tons in 2019, the season has been positive for the citrus sector, which had a turnover of approximately 650 million dollars.
Approximately 1.1 million tons of all the lemons that Argentina produced this year (80% of which are produced in Tucuman) were destined for industrial processes, 145,000 tons were directed to the domestic market, and 254,000 tons were destined for export as fresh fruit. Lemon exports generated approximately 242 million dollars in revenues for the sector.
"The season's result was satisfactory, beyond the drop in production and the difficulties of consumption caused by the pandemic, where producers needed to adjust to new protocols," said Pablo Padilla, president of the Citrus Growers Association of the Argentine Northwest (Acnoa).
In 2020, Argentina exported 34,000 tons of lemons to the US (worth nearly 33 million dollars), i.e. almost 45% more than the 23,500 tons it exported in 2019, he stated.
These figures position the United States as the second-largest destination of Argentine lemons, behind Russia, which purchased nearly 58,000 tons of Argentine lemons this year.
According to the head of Acnoa, sales of fresh fruit to the United States are expected to grow in the medium term and estimates are that some 40,000 tons could be placed in that market in 2021.
Padilla said that, despite the unfavorable global context due to the pandemic, this year China opened its market for Argentine lemons and the country shipped its first 500 tons there. "Now the sector is preparing and investing in logistics to be able to expand shipments to that Asian country in 2021, with higher volumes and the conditions for constant growth in sales, as happened with the United States," he said.
New drop in production
Due to the frosts and the period of intense drought recorded in recent months in the region, the lemon sector is preparing for a new and important drop in global production that, according to estimates, would reach 30% in global volume, reaching 1 million tons. "This would mainly affect the product destined for the industry, which would drop sharply and decrease the processing plants capacity by 50% compared to recent years," Padilla stated.