The fine lemon campaign is practically over, driven by good prices in recent weeks due to less fruit availability. At the same time, the first Verna lemons are beginning to be sold, whose volumes are expected to drop by more than 40% according to Ailimpo and whose sizes are excessively large due to the influence of the rains.
"The harvest already came with a forecast of reduced volumes due to bad weather during the fruit set period. In our case, it has been reduced by around 30%. As there is less load of fruit on the trees and it rains so continuously In March and April, the lemons have fattened much more than usual and reached giant sizes," explains Enrique Fuentes, commercial director of the Murcian company Hijos de Alberto del Cerro.
"Normally the markets demand sizes 3,4 and 5 and this year sizes 1,2 and 3 abound. So medium and small lemons are highly valued," he continues. "It is not being easy to convince buyers that there is a shortage and that for this reason, lemons of more commercial sizes have high starting prices. It will be more difficult to introduce large sizes since few markets are interested in them."
"Furthermore, we are not alone, since there are already South African and Argentine lemons, still in small quantities, although they come with good production and sizes. It will be in 2 or 3 weeks when there will be significant volumes from Argentina and South Africa on the markets. Europeans," says Enrique Fuentes.
"It should be remembered that South Africa has gained positions in Europe, since before they were more focused on Asia and the Middle East. These are quality lemons, on a par with the Spanish product when it is at its best. Argentina has also gained weight in the United States but still sees Europe as an attractive market".
According to the commercial director of this company, the competition with Turkey for the Primofiori lemon has been stronger in the countries of Eastern and Central Europe. "Turkish exporters have diverted merchandise destined for Ukraine and Russia to other EU countries, seeking security in payments. Despite the fact that our production has been lower, there has been greater competition and pressure on prices."
"The change from plastic to compostable materials has been a challenge"
Hijos de Alberto del Cerro allocates more than 80% of its sales to European markets. In the last year, they have invested in converting part of the packaging lines in order to eliminate the use of plastic in markets such as France, where a ban on plastic packaging was imposed in 2022 on fruit and vegetables.
"Now we can make our fruit in the same formats that we have been doing, but with completely compostable materials, such as cotton and cellulose. Replacing plastic with these materials has been quite a challenge, in addition to the fact that they are more expensive and their availability is limited. has been very limited since the start of the war in Ukraine. We anticipate that other countries such as Germany and Austria will follow in France's footsteps in terms of eliminating plastic. At the moment, we detect interest in these materials for those orders of organic lemon, of Zero Residue or without post-harvest treatment, in different countries".