ALL LEMON, the seal of quality for Argentinean lemon exports, ended its sixth season. The volume of fresh fruit exports in the 2015 season was 25% higher than in the 2014 campaign and the fruit had a good quality despite it being a year marked by different climatic contingencies that threatened to undermine the quality of the fruit.
"This year lemon plantations had yields that were almost 60% higher than in the 2014 season, and there still is fruit that hasn't been harvested and that will be allocated to the industry. However, we're at the point where we can state that these are the levels of production of the 2015 season, which is always a positive thing because it allows us to comply with our customers' demands and bring our fruit to more destinations," stated Romain Corneille, president of ALL LEMON.
"We still haven't reached the standard volumes of normal years because of the weather. It's worth recalling that the 2014 season was extremely poor in terms of production (750,000 tons); a fall in volume that had never been experienced by lemon producers. Thus, compared to 2014, any production number this year would seem huge.
"Despite the increase in total production, exports of fresh fruit only grew 25% over 2014, mainly because the fruit was very difficult to work with in terms of quality this campaign. Thus, ALL LEMON doubled controls and the packing member companies achieved very low yields to assure the quality of the final product," he said.
"The high summer temperatures last year, and this year's continuous heavy rains at the end of summer and early autumn were the main determinants that made it difficult to achieve an excellent quality fruit this season and have a great harvest," said Carlos Parravicini, vice president of ALL LEMON.
"Additionally, once the 2015 season started, the weather conditions were so adverse that they complicated the loading operations, something that had not happened for a long while. We had a highly rainy winter. Our productive area generally differs from other lemon areas in the world because we have very dry winters, which clearly was not the case this season. Still, the companies audited by ALL LEMON made every effort to try to meet the volume commitments they had with their customers," he stated.
During this campaign, ALL LEMON performed daily checks on the 22 packaging lines of the companies they audited. The seal's inspection team verified more than 600,000 units of lemon in a personalized way to avoid risks that would compromise the fruit's quality, which arrived without major inconveniences to the major world markets.
The seal added a new member to their control systems, the producing, packaging, and exporting company Lapacho Amarillo from Tucuman. In parallel, three companies (Cauquén, Expofrut Argentina Univeg, and Moño Azul) are no longer part of the Chamber of Citrus Exporters, the owner of the ALL LEMON seal of quality.
The Companies audited by ALL LEMON are: Argenti Lemon, Cecilia Martínez Zuccardi, Citromax Citrusvil, FGF Trapani, Frutucuman, Juan Sigstad SRL, La Moraleja SA, Lapacho Amarillo, La Patria SRL, Latin Lemon, Ledesma, Pablo Padilla, and San Miguel.
For the second consecutive year, ALL LEMON passed the audit that the international consulting firm SGS conducted on August and that certifies its quality control process with the ISO 9001-2008 certification.
"This is a great step for ALL LEMON that increases the confidence of the customers of the audited companies, as it is a plus to a product they purchase. The ALL LEMON lemons are better because they are subjected to extra quality controls. We all know what the customers appreciate the most is quality. Having the support of the ISO 9001-2008 norm motivates us to continue betting on professionalism as our main tool for improvement," added Parravicini.
Macroeconomic characteristics of the 2015 campaign
A troubled international economic outlook that was different from other seasons marked the 2015 campaign.
"This is a very interesting year for the Argentine lemon, as Europe was trading at good values. Unlike 2014, higher prices were stable during 2015. The year started with a base price that was a little above the values in 2014 and they grew steadily. There were no extraordinary peaks recorded as in 2014 and we were very far from obtaining the maximum sales values of the 2014 campaign," stated Ricardo Trapani, director of FGF Trapani, a company audited by ALL LEMON.
"Additionally, the dollar being stronger than the Euro had a negative effect on the final numbers for Argentine exporters, as the marketing of our products is done in Euro but then those currencies are brought into our country and changed into dollars."
Trapani also said that the "prices in Russia, in terms of their local currency, were also attractive, but the ruble devaluation clearly eroded FOB prices when measured in dollars. We must consider that the devaluation of the Russian currency when compared to the dollar has been almost 50%."
Another novelty in this market, which is very important for the Argentine lemon as it is one of its main destinations, is that the Russian Government has decided to maintain the measure of not importing food products from Europe. Although this measure was renewed for another year, some observers of international politics are not very optimistic. Russia has increased controls at borders so that the importers aren't able to enter merchandise from Europe under any circumstance, and to immediately destroy the products that don't comply with this rule.
"The situation in Russia has brought some operational complications for our product, as the requirements to import them overseas are now much higher. Therefore, we are analysing the possibility of reaching an agreement on the matter with the Russian authorities so that they get to know the work we carry out at origin, give them some peace of mind to avoid further operative complications that could result in a loss of quality of service and so that there is a normal supply to that market," added the manager of FGF Trapani.
Opening markets: United States, China and India
Finally, the phytosanitary doubts that the US had expressed about Argentine lemon were scientifically refuted by Argentina, which demonstrated that their lemon poses no danger to the United States. This important advance in the dialogue led to the visit of representatives from APHIS (USDA United States) to the Argentine NOA provinces (Tucuman, Salta, Jujuy and Catamarca) in July. The representatives visited plantations and packaging companies. Furthermore, they held meetings with officials of SENASA (National Service of Agricultural Health and Quality of Argentina), Afinoa (Plant Association of Northwest Argentina) and local lemon exporting companies to agree on a work plan in face of the reopening of the US market.
"The United States is expected to begin the 90 days public consultation process in which different stakeholders from both countries can make their comments on the proposed standard for lemon imports from Northwestern Argentina to the United States. Undoubtedly, we have come a long way and the meticulous scientific work of Argentina, and the support provided by ALL LEMON were crucial to demonstrate the quality and safety of our fruit," said Daniel Lucci, director of Citrusvil, another company audited by ALL LEMON.
Meanwhile, a delegation of ALL LEMON participated with a stand in the first edition of the China Fruit and Vegetables Fair, which was held in Beijing between September 9 and 11. ALL LEMON was specially invited so that, together with the Argentina Embassy in China, it could present Argentina's lemon quality offer.
"India is another new market interested in learning more about our lemon so as to open its doors. We were also invited to participate in various meetings during the Annapoorna World of Fruit fair held in Mumbai in mid-September, "said Lucci, adding that" Asia is one of the emerging markets in recent times and the fastest growing market in export volumes season after season. It is a demanding market and the most geographically distant from Argentina; however, they trust us and ask for our fruit. Asian countries undoubtedly constitute a future of great opportunities and we are continuously paying attention to it."
ALL LEMON also participated with its own stand at the Asia Fruit Logistics fair (Hong Kong) for the fourth consecutive year and at the World Food Moscow fair (Moscow) for the fifth consecutive year.
News about Think Lemon
Think Lemon, the promotion campaign to encourage a higher lemon consumption around the world, is in a phase where it is researching content related to the use of lemon in its different variants. During the last months of the year, some public actions will be tested in Argentina in order to begin a more direct relationship with consumers and to study their relationship with the lemon.
"Undoubtedly, Think Lemon is ALL LEMON's most ambitious project with lemon as it links lemons directly with society, which is ultimately the consuming public. We've found many great uses for lemon that we can share with people and that motivates us to take better care of our product and its benefits," said Romain Corneille.
Think Lemon is the global campaign to promote consumption of lemon through the thinklemon.net website launched in early 2015 and promoted by ALL LEMON. On this platform, consumers can find the most complete uses and properties of lemon, recipes, health care and beauty recommendations, as well as much more content showing the fruit's excellent attributes.
"During 2016, Think Lemon will be available to the world with different actions off line to meet its promoter's biggest desire: making the daily consumption of lemon a lifestyle that benefits consumer in every way," said Corneille.
About ALL LEMON - Tested & Certified for Export
ALL LEMON - Tested & Certified for Export is a quality seal for Argentine lemon exports. It was created in 2010 as an initiative of the leading producers, packers and exporters of lemon in the country, especially from Tucuman, which is the leading producer of lemons in the world.
The goal of ALL LEMON is to standardize and homogenize the quality of export lemons. To achieve this, a protocol to select the lemons for exports was established independently from the companies sponsoring the seal.
Independent professionals with experience in the Secretariat for Food and Rural Affairs of the Ministry of Tucuman and in the Productive Development of Tucuman helped to create the protocol, while a team of independent professionals performs controls at the packaging lines five times a week.
In 2014, ALL LEMON achieved certification of its quality process approved by the internationally recognized standard ISO 9001-2008.
The main attributes that the lemons with the ALL LEMON seal have are: their safety, traceability (chain of custody), durability, high juice content, and cosmetic care.
ALL LEMON audits the following companies: Argenti Lemon, Cecilia Martínez Zuccardi, Citromax Citrusvil, FGF Trapani, Frutucuman, Juan Sigstad SRL, La Moraleja SA, Lapacho Amarillo, La Patria SRL, Latin Lemon, Ledesma, Pablo Padilla, and San Miguel. All of these companies also have international quality certifications, including GlobalGAP.
ALL LEMON is open to incorporating more Argentine export companies into their control systems.
For more information about ALL LEMON: