In this installment of the ‘Agronometrics In Charts’ series, Sarah Ilyas studies the state of the Argentina lemon season. Each week the series looks at a different horticultural commodity, focusing on a specific origin or topic visualizing the market factors that are driving change.
Argentina is touted as a leading lemon producer in the world. Lemons here are grown mainly in the northwest provinces of Tucuman, Salta and Jujuy, with some minor production in northeast Argentina. Over the course of the past few years, lemon crop producers in northwest Argentina have enlarged their planted area. By virtue of tree removal and replantation, the plant-per-hectare ratio, efficiency and yields have been increased. Lemon harvest in Argentina kicked off in the first week of April. In the past few weeks, harvests have winded down. At the height of the season, around 6.8 K tonnes entered the US market. Week 34 saw the recorded volumes dropping to approximately 2.4 K tonnes. This season, the US received approximately 24.77% lower lemon exports from Argentina, based on the statistics up to week 33 of the Citrus Growers Association of the Argentine Northwest (Acnoa), based in Tucuman.
Pricing this season ranged from $29.67 per package in week 26 to $20 per package in week 33.
Over the past decade, the lemon sector has been strengthened by investments, with 70 to 75% of total production dedicated to exports of processed lemon products, such as essential oil, frozen pulp and dehydrated peel. Growing global competition and domestic economic contraction have, however, negatively impacted the lemon sector. Freight costs have almost tripled, negatively impacting exports, increasing costs and reducing competitiveness. Apart from this, fertilizers and inputs for weed control have more than doubled in price, on top of higher administrative expenses and higher taxes. According to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Citrus Semi-annual report for Argentina, container availability shortages and higher fleet costs, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and global inflation, are impacting the activity of the Argentine citrus industry, increasing export costs by 100 percent.
All pricing for domestic US produce represents the spot market at Shipping Point (i.e. packing house/climate controlled warehouse, etc.). For imported fruit, the pricing data represents the spot market at Port of Entry.
Written by: Sarah Ilyas