Supplies of lemons continue to be strong, particularly from California.
“We’re pulling lemons from California’s District 1 and filling in with District 2 and it has been good. The quality is good and I believe volumes are peaking on smaller lemons such as 165 and 200 sizes. A lot of specials are being offered for the coming month but the push is on for smaller sizes,” says Paul G. Gonzalez of River City Produce Inc. in San Antonio, TX.
Lemons are also coming from Mexico but Gonzalez notes these were off-bloom and the major volume had not started. “I’ve also been quoted on Moroccan lemons and I was quite surprised by that,” he says.
“Empty places to fill”
To contend with those volumes, demand is very good—particularly currently in South Central Texas where River City Produce is located. “The last two weeks were very active. The ice and snowstorms closed highways and cities in Texas for almost a week. Grocery stores were emptied and we had power blackouts,” he says. “So, it interrupted the supply chain here. Trucks couldn’t get unloaded due to a lack of power at the warehouses. Loaded trucks stayed loaded for four to seven days due to the issues around rolling blackouts, the employees were having issues getting to work and there wasn’t any water and broken water pipes. I’ve never seen it happen before for this length of time. Business for us has been very good because there was nothing but empty places for us to fill.”
That said, Gonzalez notes that retail is still king of course for the citrus fruit. “What’s keeping pricing down is the restaurants can’t get a break due to the virus. COVID-19 cases are down but people are not going in to eat. But it’s looking better,” he says. “Once that gets going again, it’ll help clean up the off-grade and medium-sized lemons.”
Right now, pricing looks similar to last year at this time—higher teens on the mediums and lower teens for smaller lemons.