A good window for lemons from Mexico

From Fresh Plaza | 21 November 2023

Overview of lemons from Mexico in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on November 21, 2023.

It’s Thanksgiving week in the US and demand as well as pricing is very good for lemons. “During the holidays, there is always a celebration and lemons are included in many dishes and cocktails,” says Ronnie Cohen with Vision Global Group. This time of year, the company brings in lemons from Mexico and a good market was very much needed. “After a couple years of bad markets, high input costs, and a drought, the situation got challenging. Some growers didn’t invest in their trees anymore and as a result, sizing was small during the early part of the Mexican season,” shared Cohen. However, Mexico is now halfway through the season and the product is sizing up.

All in all, it has been a good window for Mexico. “Chile has been having production issues. Due to lower availability, the majority of production is exported to China, the highest paying market,” commented Cohen. “The biggest unknown currently is the start of California’s lemon season.” Some people will switch to fully sourcing from California and the impact of switching from imports to domestic supply is unknown at this point. In addition, post-Thanksgiving sales are usually flat. “People overbuy leading up to the holiday and return to normal habits after Thanksgiving. Soon, we will find out the impact.”

Vision expects to continue sourcing from Mexico until the end of 2023. “We will finish the year with Mexico, but are also waiting to hear back from Spain,” Cohen said. The country is a stable supplier in January, February and sometimes into March. “However, a tariff in combination with increased ocean freight, made it unattractive to source from Spain the past few years,” said Cohen. Now, Vision is exploring the possibility of starting up lemon imports from the southern European country again.

lemon volumes by history

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Lime growers harvested ahead

The lime market is also pretty steady at the moment with promotional volume available. However, the situation is expected to turn around after Christmas. “A significant reduction in production is anticipated, coupled with elevated pricing in January and February.” What is causing lower production? “El Niño has had some effect, but the biggest impact is from growers who harvested ahead,” shared Cohen. “Pricing was really elevated until recently and growers chased the money. They opted to capture a higher dollar value and harvested fruit that would normally be harvested in January and February.” Because part of the January and February fruit has already been harvested, supplies are expected to be significantly down these months.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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