Martín Carignani, president of ACNOA, the Citrus Association of Northwest Argentina ( Tom Karst )

BERLIN — In their second year exporting to the U.S. market after a long absence, Argentina lemon exporters will take a very measured approach to filling market needs.

Martín Carignani, president of ACNOA, the Citrus Association of Northwest Argentina, said in an interview at Fruit Logistica 2019 that the 10 or so lemon exporters will listen to the market needs of the U.S.

“The protocol says that we can start to harvest (for export to the U.S.) at the beginning of April but we are working together with our importers to coordinate very well when the market needs our lemons,” Carignani said. “Our intention is not to compete with current production of the United States but to complement the market and to serve the consumer.”

Argentina resumed lemon exports to the U.S. after a 17-year absence, and Carignani said exporters made sure they were compliant with phytosanitary requirements in addition to being sensitive to the needs of the market.

“This year we are planning to have more volume, but always with extremely (care) about volume and quantities each week,” he said.

Europe is the biggest market for Argentina’s lemons, with arrivals mostly in Spain, the Netherlands and Italy.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture report on Argentina lemons said that fresh lemon production for marketing year 2018-19 is forecast up to 1.6 million metric tons, up from 1.5 million metric tons in 2017-18. Of that, lemon exports to all countries are estimated at 290,000 metric tons, up from 265,000 metric tons in 2017-18 and 241,000 metric tons in 2016-17.

Small slice

The U.S. received only a small fraction of Argentina’s lemon exports last year.

According to the USDA report, U.S. imports of Argentina lemons in 2018 were 5.9 million pounds in 2018, or about 2,681 metric tons. Arrivals of Argentina lemons arrived by boat at Philadelphia from May through August and into Tampa in June, according to the USDA. Philadelphia terminal market prices for Argentina lemons in mid-July last year were $48 to $50 per carton for size 140, increasing to $56 to $58 per carton by mid-August.