Exports of lemons outpace last year’s

The South African lemon harvest that began three to 4 weeks before the previous year’s has led to a rapid increase in exports. By week 17, precisely 2 millions of cartons (15kg) higher than the previous year’s YTD. (6.1 millions of cartons).

The gap between 2022’s and 2023’s volume of lemons were nearly four millions of cartons.

The lemon season is about five percent through. The estimates of exports for the year 2023 stands at 37.7 million 15kg boxes.

At present, Europe is the safest and the largest market to buy South African lemons – but only for units that do not have black spots on the citrus (CBS). The weather has been wet this summer, and CBS prevalence is very high, while the phytosanitary regulations of the EU are being stricter.

The Perishable Product Export Control Board will inspect 1 percent of the fruit that is not CBS zones (much of northern provinces of the nation and KwaZulu-Natal to the east, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal to the east) from the moment of arrival until the packaging.

A single instance of CBS will exclude the orchard from which it originated from exporting further to the EU the following season. Repeat three incidents and the whole production facility is banned from exports for the remainder of the season.

In the wake of the CBS threat, there’s seen an increase in the amount of lemons being sent into the Middle East, which traditionally is the preferred market for South Africa for lemons in the early stages and is the region where about half the nation’s lemons are going.

It is believed that the Middle East lemon market has recently crashed, with about similar frequency to the past.

Russia is absorbing more lemons in the current season. 12% of South Africa’s lemons are going there, and 5 percent YTD in 2022.

South East Asia has received similar proportions of lemons as last year, but it’s down five percent compared to the first exports of last year’s.

It is believed that the United Kingdom dissociating itself from the EU has brought benefits for South African citrus producers. The trade in lemons with the UK is growing by 33%, which is 7% of all exports in the year to date.

Source: The Plantations International Agroforestry Group of Companies