Due to findings of Citrus Black Spot in Argentinian lemons in European ports, Argentina made the decision to put an export ban into place starting today (July 1st) which is to last for at least 15 days. The country is putting together a plan of action which will include additional measures to limit the risk of spreading until the end of the 2020 export season. All shipments that were sent prior to July 1st are exempt from the ban. These loads will be allowed to enter the ports and be exported by the European Union, given that they meet all the inspection requirements.

Salix Fruits CEO: “EU lemon market is currently under pressure”
Alejandro Moralejo, CEO of Salix Fruits comments: “The Argentina Phytosanitary authorities reacted very quickly to this problem. The Argentina growers and exporters worked together with the Argentina Sanitary Government Authorities (SENASA) to avoid this program. This is an untypical year where CBS appears in a very aggressive way in the lemon crop.”

He adds: “Argentina always finishes their lemon loadings to Europe around week 32, and this will be a 2-week suspension during weeks 28-29. Up until now, 75% of the loadings have been made and this ban will take a significant volume out of the market. But South Africa is also a big supplier of lemons to the EU during the summer, and Salix has a very good range of suppliers in this region to provide the volumes our customers need.”

“The European lemon market is currently under pressure from overlapping supplies from Spain (Verna), Argentina, and South Africa. This reduction of loads from Argentina will reduce the amount of fruit on the lemon market. Argentina always targets the Mediterranean market, and this will give space other other suppliers. There are some bigger retailers that have big programs with Argentina, these customers may suffer from the lack of goods,” he concludes.

Dutch importer expects lemon market to get boost
“The country is putting rigorous measures into place. After the sharpened rules for South African and Brazilian citrus, people are afraid to lose their position in the export market. That is why they are taking control of the situation,” states Jan Bakker of 4 Fruit Company, located in Ridderkerk, the Netherlands. According to this importer, the peak of the Argentinian citrus season has already passed. “Two weeks back, we were already hearing that the season would end earlier than it did in previous years. Many large packhouses have already sold out of their lemons. The last big load would arrive within about 10 days.”

He expects that the lemon market will get a big boost due to the export ban. “The market for lemons has met difficult times in the past weeks. Lemons are a big food service item and the drop in demand due to the corona precautions hit the industry hard. The Argentinian export ban will likely also give a boost to the South African lemon market!”

Ailimpo doesn’t expect shortage on the market
“We fully trust the European phytosanitary inspection systems,” said José Antonio García, director of Ailimpo (Spanish Association of Lemon and Grapefruit Producers and Traders). According to the representative of the lemon sector in Spain, this temporary ban on Argentinian lemon exports will not cause a shortage in the European markets as it occurs almost at the same time the Argentinian campaign ends. “Argentina started sending lemons to Europe 6 weeks earlier this year because of the attractive market with sky-high demand for citrus caused by the COVID-19, and there are still many containers on the sea, on their way to Europe. In addition, South Africa will keep supplying Europe for a longer period and Spain is selling the last Verna lemons.”

It should be noted that the European markets are rather quiet now in terms of demand. After the madness of April and May, as the coronavirus curve goes down, so it does the consumption.