Lemon supplies are good though pricing and freight rates are influencing where they’re being pulled from.
In San Antonio, TX, Paul G. Gonzalez of River City Produce Inc. says River City Produce was receiving lemons from California until the first part of July. “That’s when the supplies were low and the pricing was jumping up,” says Gonzalez, who noted that the recent heat wave in the state was also affecting the lemons.
Currently, River City Produce is receiving offshore lemons because Gonzalez says the value works out better. “They’re Argentinian and Chilean lemons and it was a considerably better buy. I can use non-domestic lemons at this time and the quality is good,” says Gonzalez. “It’s better value even with the freight differential. Even coming off the ports on the East Coast, it costs a lot less than the freight from the West Coast.” He notes that River City Produce will likely stay with offshore supplies for the next two to three weeks.
Mexico coming on, too
However, Mexico will start with its lemon crop in two weeks. “There were some off-bloom lemons available and right now they’re going to peak on 200 sizes,” says Gonzalez. “But they say the crop is going to be good and that sizing on lemons will improve as the season goes on.”
This is largely related to what is happening in the lime market which saw a recent significant increase in prices. “So they’re going to focus on picking limes so the lemons will get bigger,” he says.
For River City Produce, its proximity to Mexico means the country is a significant supplier of lemons for it, particularly when freight rates are an issue. “The freight rates have been insane--freight is up by 40 to 55 percent,” Gonzalez adds.
Meanwhile demand has been solid for lemons. The return of foodservice particularly benefits the citrus fruit, which is a popular foodservice item. Gonzalez notes that the foodservice demand is also contributing to the low California supplies.
So not surprisingly, pricing on lemons is strong currently. “I think if foodservice keeps pulling like it is, pricing will continue to be strong on lemons,” says Gonzalez.