The increase in the lemon and grapefruit production this year and the reduction of the demand due to the impact of the restrictions to contain the pandemic are resulting in a difficult 2020/2021 season. Lemon prices at origin amount to around 23 cents, lower than at this time last year and than in previous seasons.
The restaurant and hospitality channel, which absorbs around 35-40% of Spanish lemon sales in Europe, is almost entirely closed. In recent days, restrictions have been tightened even more in northern European countries, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark or France, among others. “Part of the consumption of this channel has been transferred to homes, but we are noticing that consumption is being held back by the economic situation as a result of this health crisis. At this time, sales should increase, but the usual boost to the demand ahead of the Christmas campaign is not happening. Furthermore, I don't think it's cold enough to encourage consumption,” says José Antonio García, director of the Interprofessional Association of Lemon and Grapefruit (Ailimpo).
“It is surprising how, in this situation, large supermarket chains are enforcing very aggressive price policies. The lemon production is larger this year and it is being very difficult to sell second-class fruit, since in addition to missing the horeca channel, Turkey has become a tough competitor in Eastern countries. Although the production levels of Turkish Interdonato lemons were very low and these didn't have an impact at the beginning of the season, since mid-November there has been a great supply of Lamas lemons,” he says.
According to the representative of Ailimpo, although the price levels of lemon and grapefruit are not in line with those of recent years, in which they have been quite extraordinary, they remain profitable. “This campaign we are seeing a downward trend after a few years with good price results. According to the data we handle, prices remain profitable for producers. Our goal is to maintain a good balance in terms of profitability for all links in the value chain. In recent years, there has been an important transformation in the sector, with a greater focus on trade, and those producers who are better prepared in terms of certifications will play with an advantage. Spain will remain the top lemon and grapefruit marketer in Europe.”