South Africa sold 33% more lemons in Europe this year – and we can thank Argentina
- Due to extreme temperatures, Argentina has had a bad time with lemon and lime production.
- This is great news for South Africa, which stepped smartly into the gap.
- South African lemon and lime production is expected to increase by 6% this season.
Severe weather conditions have had a big impact on Argentina's lemon and lime production, while ongoing political and economic woes cut into its ability to export.
And that has been great news for South African exporters.
Argentina's output shortfall created unmet demand in Europe – and that in turn saw a 33% increase in lemon exports to Europe for this production year, according to figures from Exsa Europe, the Dutch-based importer with growers around the world.
Argentina's citrus-growing regions were affected by frost at the end of winter, high temperatures in summer, plus excessive rain that delayed harvest for about a month. The combination affected both quality and total output.
South Africa, on the other hand, had improved weather conditions the two main citrus-growing provinces, the Eastern Cape and Limpopo. An increase in planted area also helped.
The Eastern Cape and Limpopo account for 80% of South Africa's lemon and lime production, and increases there helped offset lower production in the drought-hit Western Cape.
But the European party for South African exporters may already be over, says Eddy Kreukniet of Exsa Europe
"We've now entered the final weeks of the season and the market it decreasing with the entry of Turkish and Spanish citrus."
Growers who, during this period, did not plant a mix of products, might be headed into a difficult year, warns Kreukniet.
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