( File photo )

(UPDATED, Aug. 16) The California lemon market isn’t backing down from $50 cartons in mid-August, and tight supplies could exist well into September and even October.

“The lemon market will be strong for a while, probably until District III starts which is in Yuma, Ariz., and Mecca, Calif.,” said Gabe Romero, lemon sourcing specialist for Monterey, Calif.-based Pro*Act. “I don’t see it going away.”

With desert lemon production set for October, some Chilean and Mexican lemons are being imported but not enough to make a dent in the high market so far, he said.

Zak Laffite, chief sales officer for Delano, Calif.-based Wonderful Citrus said volume from Mexico will increase.

“We do anticipate a slight increase in availability from Mexico (industry wise), which will happen in two steps," he said in an email Aug. 16.

"Starting next week crossings should increase by 10% approximately and stay like that for two weeks. Then it will increase again by another 10% and stay like that for about six weeks." 

After that, Mexican lemon volume will drop sharply as the season finishes, Laffite said.

The limited supply sources for lemons make it tough on buyers, Romero said. 

“There are certain districts provide all the lemons for the rest of the nation, so you can’t really bounce and go to somewhere else,” he said.

Noting soft rot in some lots, he said quality for domestic lemons is fair at best.

“They are packing standard fruit to choice fruit, very little fancy fruit (right now),” he said. 

The USDA reported f.o.b.s of $50-$57 per carton for California first-grade lemons on Aug. 14, up from $30-$42 at the same time last year and $42-$45 per carton two years ago.

On the Hunt’s Point Terminal Market, first-grade lemons from California were priced at $68 per carton for size 140s, while organic 140s were $84 per carton.

There are reports of increasing Chilean and Mexican lemon arrivals for late August, said George Godinez, buyer at San Diego, Calif.-based Coast Citrus. Even so, he said strong lemon market conditions could persist well into September.

Because the fruit has been on the water for weeks, some of the Chilean fruit may need to be repacked because of condition.
California lemon suppliers were offering prices from $55-$65 per carton in mid-August. The high market and variable prices are causing buyers to order just what they need rather than buy bigger volume and then see prices come off, he said.

One wholesale buyer, speaking on background, said consumer demand for lemons continues to outpace supply in mid-August.

He noted some retailers have cut back the number of stock-keeping units on lemons to reduce their exposure,

Like limes, he said demand for lemons is fairly resilient even with retail price increases. 

The buyer said that until Mexico can bring more lemons to the Texas border, strong U.S. lemon prices will likely continue.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s retail report shows that promotion of lemons was virtually non-existent in early. The USDA said only one retail store was promoting lemons the week of Aug. 10, at a price of 99 cents each. The same week a year ago, 270 retail stores promoted lemons for an average price of 66 cents each. 
 

There are reports of increasing Chilean and Mexican lemon arrivals for late August, said George Godinez, buyer at San Diego, Calif.-based Coast Citrus. Even so, he said strong lemon market conditions could persist well into September. Because the fruit has been on the water for weeks, some of the Chilean fruit may need to be repacked because of condition.

California lemon suppliers were offering prices from $55-$65 per carton in mid-August. The high market and variable prices are causing buyers to order just what they need rather than buy bigger volume and then see prices come off, he said.

 
Comments
Submitted by don on Wed, 08/15/2018 - 16:36

organic market prices are in the 90s even 140/165 are getting high prices