Lemon volumes are picking up from the north of the country. Very early lemons have been harvested since the beginning of the year on Alicedale Estates, “opening batsman for South Africa’s lemon campaign”, quips producer Peter Nicholson in Tshipise, the very north of the country. The harvest is a nice, good average, he says.
“Global lemon prices are healthy at the moment and coming in as early as we do, when the Northern Hemisphere hands over to the Southern Hemisphere, it’s a good time to market lemons.”
The price peaks of previous years aren’t as pronounced anymore, as a result of lemon expansion and larger volumes.
Seedless lemons make up 15 to 20% of Alicedale Estate’s orchards and they’ve been exporting seedless lemons for a while, marketing them as conventional lemons to the Far East, but this season marketing of South African seedless lemons is moving up a gear, particularly as there is a nice opportunity for the product in Europe. Shipping will start in the coming weeks, after a slight delay in colour development.
“Colour is an important aspect to manage,” says Riaan Ellis, marketing manager of Unifrutti South Africa. “The Far East wants a bit more colour to the lemons, you can’t get away with too much green but similarly, lemons that are too yellow appear old to buyers.” He notes that the colour expected by the current export markets of Russia, the Middle East and the Far East are generally in the same band.
South African exporters are now waiting for European supermarkets to announce the change in supplier origin. Most exporters are waiting for Spanish Verna supplies to clear out before starting their European campaign. Lemons for the European wholesale market are typically sent a bit earlier, to take advantage should the tail-end of the Northern lemon season be abbreviated.
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