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Juan Antonio Martinez, Toñifruit Manager:

"The lemon campaign is long and we're confident that prices will return to normal with the Verna lemon"

The Fino lemon campaign is going through a "perfect storm" and its results have been much lower than expected, stated Juan Antonio Martínez, manager of Toñifruit. "Unfortunately, prices right now are below production costs. Fortunately, the lemon campaign is long and we are confident that things will return to normal with the Verna lemon, a spring/summer variety that is only grown in Spain for the European market."

At the moment, according to Ailimpo's latest report, prices at origin in the Region of Murcia range between 0.18 and 0.22 euro/kg; i.e. approximately half of the 0.35-0.40 euro/kg recorded in the same week of 2023. This campaign also started with the positive announcement that the Spanish harvest would return to normal production values, increasing by 34% over the production achieved in the 2022/23 campaign. Despite this forecast, the most recent data on citrus imports from third countries in the EU reveal that during the first four months of the 2023/24 campaign (September-December) the Community market imported 107,556 tons of lemons, i.e. 15.8% more than in the same period of last year. The largest year-on-year increase in imports took place in October, just at the beginning of the Spanish campaign, when the EU imported +68.36% more tons compared to October 2022.

"Why is this happening?" Juan Antonio wonders. “I've asked myself this question many times throughout these months. Europe has continued to increase imports from third countries, which are continuously prolonging the end of their campaigns, thus impacting the first months of Spanish exports."

"European customers should trust the seriousness of Spain; it's a country that fulfills its commitments and does not try to mislead the market with false announcements. Europe can't talk about sustainability and then reduce purchases from the country with the highest volume of organic lemon in the world, a country that has a healthy proximity product that is grown complying with European requirements," he said.

"The Verna harvest will allow us to provide a 100% complete service to our customers until July"
The Verna lemon campaign will recover its productive capacity with a robust 45% increase, "which will allow us to provide in summer a 100% complete service, especially to our European customers, without having to resort to other sources."

"However, a part of this year's harvest won't reach its commercial caliber because of the lack of rain in southeast Spain," the manager of Toñifruit stated. "This means that, at the commercial level, the volume will be smaller. The harvest will be large enough to serve our customers until July and prices won't be so low because the supply will regulate them."

"Early lemon exporters from Argentina or South Africa should consider this price issue and think about delaying their shipments, as bringing their fruit when there still is Spanish product on the market hurts them. The increase in supply lowers our prices, but it also lowers theirs."

Positive feelings for the next stone fruit campaign
While the citrus campaign progresses, the stone fruit trees in Murcia are accumulating the necessary cold hours to give way to one of Spain's earliest harvests in the coming months. "Winter arrived a tad late, but the trees will get enough cold to yield good quality fruits. Right now, the trees are in the bud swelling phase. However, some almond trees have already started flowering. If we take them as a reference, the feeling is that will have a full bloom this year," Juan Antonio stated.

For more information:

Parque empresarial Cabecicos Blancos
C/ Molino Grande, buzón 22
30892 Librilla. Murcia. España
Tel.: +34 968 071 056
[email protected]

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