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José Antonio García, director of Ailimpo: "The acreage has grown by 36% in 8 years"

"The current lemon crisis in Spain has not come as a surprise"

The 2023/2024 Spanish Fino lemon season has come to a close with significant volumes of fruit left unharvested on the trees due to a severe price crisis, with these falling well below profitability levels. The campaign now continues with the harvest of the native Verna variety, which is expected to yield a notably larger production.

The Spanish lemon production in the 2023/2024 campaign is expected to come close to 1.4 million tons, a record figure. According to Ailimpo, the Lemon and Grapefruit Interprofessional Association, the current price crisis is due to the sector's inability to handle such a large volume and has dismissed the idea that imports from third countries in the European Union are to blame.

"The current crisis has not come as a surprise," says José Antonio García. "Since 2018, we have been warning the sector about an excess of new plantings within a short timeframe that could lead to a spectacular increase in the production, and that's what we've seen this campaign. It is a structural problem. It's a shame how we seem unable to react until the problems arrive," he says.

"Around 7 million lemon trees have been planted in the last 8 years. The acreage has grown from 38,363 to 52,119 hectares, which represents a 36% increase," says the director of Ailimpo.

"Taking into account everything that has been planted, we believe the production could exceed 1.772 million tons in the coming years; a figure that exceeds what the market can currently absorb profitably, which is around 1.1 million tons per campaign. This overproduction has caused a market bottleneck at origin and significant price drops," says José Antonio García.

"Such crises are of a cyclical nature. We come from a decade in which lemon cultivation has been profitable and in which Spain has become a leader in the export of fruits and vegetables," says the representative of this association. There are no immediate solutions to this problem; it will take time. We have already contacted the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA) to try managing the situation.

José Antonio García claims that "imports cannot be blamed for this crisis, although we are also keeping an eye there. Turkey is delivering its usual volumes, considering the data from the last 5 years, and although it is true that South Africa has significantly increased its production, its deliveries arrive in the off-season, just like Argentina's."

The Verna lemon harvest is now starting and will continue until July. "We have spoken with our partners in South Africa and Argentina to make sure that their exports arrive at the end of our Verna campaign, to avoid overlaps. We always aim to protect the national production," says the director of Ailimpo.

For more information:
C/ Villaleal, 3
30001 Murcia, Spain
T: +34 968 21 66 19
[email protected]

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