Lemon prices have finally dipped below $50 per box, but they’re still much higher than normal, and should stay that way into September.
John Carter, director of global sales for Limoneira Co., Santa Paula, Calif., expects more of the same in the short term.
“For the next few weeks, based on demand, my sense is pricing will stay pretty firm where it’s been,” Carter said Aug. 5.
Heading into September, demand will continue to outpace supply, particularly on large lemons, Carter said.
Jeff Olsen, president of The Chuck Olsen Co., Visalia, Calif., agreed.
“We won’t start in District 3 until the third week or the last week of September, and I think they’ll stay strong until then,” Olsen said. “There are record-high prices right now, and with the quality the way it is, it’s not something you want to be sitting on.”
Packouts in early August in California’s District 2 were “not what we’d like to see,” Olsen said.
On Aug. 5, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $43.80-47.90 for 7/10 bushel cartons of shipper first grade lemons 75s from California, up from $25.75-27.80 last year at the same time.
Bushel cartons of 165s were $39.80-41.90, up from $23.75-24.80.
Joan Wickham, manager of advertising and public relations for Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Sunkist Growers, said Sunkist will be able to continue offering strong supplies of high-quality California and Arizona lemons to its customers, even as demand remains high.
“We also are currently offering good, quality supplies of organic lemons and zebra lemons,” Wickham said Aug. 5.
Mexico was beginning to ramp up volumes in August, and Chile was continuing to ship lemons north, but other market forces were keeping prices stubbornly high, Carter said.
“They’re being offset by lower domestic availability. We’ll see how (larger Mexican volumes) impacts the market. There’s been such high demand and such low supplies for such an extended period of time.”
That should mean continued strong markets at least into early fall, Carter said.
By the end of August or beginning of September, harvests should begin in the California and Arizona desert growing regions, Carter said.