California, Mexico and Chile all slimmer on lemon supply

From Fresh Plaza | 26 September 2023

Overview of lemon supplies in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on September 25, 2023.

Lemons are tight on supply coming out of a few different regions. “California is very very scarce,” says Paul G. Gonzalez of River City Produce Inc., noting supply is coming from District 2. “It’s a weather issue. The rain events had something to do with it and California also had a wet winter.”

At the same time, Mexico also looks to be tighter on supply as well. Gonzalez says that getting lemons suitable for foodservice, notably in the 140 and 165 sizing, can be challenging from Mexico right now. “It takes anywhere from two to four days to secure them because they’re peaking on larger fruit,” he says. “They also had a lot of rain and that pushed the crops back.”

River City Produce is pulling lemons right now from off-shore–in this case, Chile. “They seem to be scarce too. I don’t think off-shore anticipated the shortages from Mexico so that’s what’s made it tight there. A lot of people were turning to offshore,” says Gonzalez.

Strength in pricing

At the same time, lemon demand seems to be steady with good movement on lemons and that’s leaving pricing on the stronger side. On Choice, pricing is stronger in the mid to upper $20s. “Fancy is really strong because they’re getting a lot of #2s because of the weather. There are bargains though if you could use juicing lemons,” says Gonzalez. “It’s up to the mid $30s on some sizes of Fancy and the #2 large fruit is $20-$30. On foodservice, pricing is between the high $20s and low $30s.”

lemon prices by origin a

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

That’s the kind of pricing that Gonzalez believes may stay there. “With the cost of everything up, I think these prices are here to stay. Prices don’t go back down like they used to,” he says.

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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