Saturday, January 26, 2008

Pricey lemons

Last year, due to two bumper harvests and near perfect growing conditions, there was a glut of lemons on the market. The price fell as supply outstripped demand and as a consequence farmers left citrus fruits of all varieties on the trees to rot. The subsequent neglect, according to Antonio Valero, president of the Valencian community’s farmers and small-holders, has resulted in an unusually small crop of lemons this year.

The small crop is not just limited to the Valencian region with Murcia growers also suffering a much smaller crop this year. Similarly Europe’s other big lemon producer, Turkey, has also been hit by high temperatures during last year’s growing season and is estimating a vastly reduced crop and less lemons to export.

The implications are a year of expensive lemons. Prices are estimated to be reaching 60-70 centimos a kilo for the growers and a retail price, once picked, transported and sold of 90 centimos to a euro per kilo.

The next large crop to reach Europe is the Argentine harvest in May and this is not expected to affect prices as demand outstrips supply. 

Valero has described the lemon trees as “exhausted” after two super-harvests. The demand in the market remains very strong. It is estimated that this season’s harvest will be 70% less than the last two and subsequently prices will rise everywhere.

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