Santa Paula, Calif.-based Limoneira plans to have more lemons in the summer months thanks to new partnerships in Argentina.
Limoneira has joined with F.G.F. Trapani S.A., Padilla Citrus S.A. and EarlyCrop S.A. to form Grupo Argentino, according to a news release.
The company expects its first shipments of Argentine lemons to the U.S. will arrive in the second half of May, said chief operating officer Alex Teague. The company estimates that total volume for U.S. shipments for the season will be approximately 400,000 cartons.
Limoneira has sourced lemons from Argentina for sale outside the U.S. for seven years. The normal season there for lemons is May to August.
“Our One World of Citrus model is reaping dividends for us, and Grupo Argentino is just the latest piece to the puzzle,” Teague said in the release. “It takes time to find companies with like-minded philosophies and missions. Each of the members of Grupo Argentino share Limoneira’s dedication to providing uninterrupted supply and the highest quality citrus and service.”
The importing of Argentine lemons to the U.S. has been a hot industry topic in recent years, as the U.S. Citrus Science Council and five growers filed suit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture after the organization decided to allow the fruit.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California ruled in favor of the USDA in late February.
“We support the science and law which has deemed Argentine lemons to be safe for entry,” Teague said. “We have and will always continue to support our California industry as well as all lemons around the world.”
The company described its new Argentine partners as leading growers and packers in the country.
F.G.F. Trapani has been producing lemons for more than 50 years.
“We have developed a reputation for quality and have demonstrated consistent growth,” CEO Ricardo Trapani said in the release. “We export globally and are dedicated to sustainability, having received GlobalGAP, Sustainable and Ethics Standard and British Retail Consortium Food designations..”
Padilla Citrus produces fruit for sale in Argentina and globally.
“By controlling every part of our process, we ensure product quality to its final destination,” CEO Pablo Jose Padilla said in the release. “All members of Grupo Argentino share this same approach, and that’s why it makes sense for us to work together and utilize economies of scale.”
EarlyCrop’s mission is to meet demand during the Northern Hemisphere’s counter-season, according to director Fernando Seoane.
“Coupled with state-of-the-art technology, it has enabled significant growth in many markets throughout the world and this relationship builds on that in North America. It’s a win-win situation,” Seoane said in the release.
Limoneira has significant growth plans for the next several years, including through the recruitment of third-party growers. CEO Harold Edwards spoke about those goals during an earnings call in March.