The coronavirus crisis has led to a boom in demand for lemons in Europe and the rest of the world, with prices almost doubling due to insufficient production.
In Spain, which is the leading producer of lemons in the EU, demand has increased enormously while production has been limited for due to climactic reasons.
The second biggest European producer is Italy, which boasts just over 25,000 hectares of cultivated area, from which about 3.8 million quintals were obtained in 2019 (-14% year-on-year).
However, production is not enough to satisfy demand, so Italy imported 1.2 million quintals in 2019.
Although lemon production was considerable in the past, in recent decades Italy lost more than half of its cultivated area, mainly due to the low fees paid to farmers. On the plus side, Italian lemons are of better quality and, depending on the type, can be found all year round.
Italy has also seen a 30% increase in demand for lemons in Sicily, while in Campania a 50% drop in production of PGI Amalfi lemons has resulted in a doubling of prices to between €1.20 and €1.50 per kilo compared to €0.60 during the same period last year.
Turkey is another major producer of lemons, with Italian farmers lobby group Coldiretti, saying that exports in the country “are subject to preventive controls in the same way as masks, lung ventilators and other medical equipment”.
The reason being is that citrus fruit is used massively by the local population for the production of alcohol-based disinfectants.
According to Coldiretti, lemons are just one of a host of farmed products that have been subject to price fluctuations and product shortages, as countries try to secure supply for their own populations.
Russia has decided to withhold part of its wheat production for domestic use after becoming the largest exporter in the world, while Vietnam has temporarily suspended new export contracts for rice, the most consumed cereal in the world.
© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Branislav Pekic. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine