State of the Lemon Industry in the European Union

Ernie Neff lemons


The European Union (EU) lemon crop forecast for 2019-20 decreased 16 percent from the previous season, to 1.471 million metric tons, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) recently reported. The FAS also provided an overview of the EU lemon industry.

The overall decline is due to the expected strong production drop in Spain and Italy, the largest and next largest EU producers, respectively. The production drop was due to unfavorable weather conditions.

Spain’s lemon production is forecast at 923,000 metric tons (MT), a decrease of almost 20 percent from the previous year. After Argentina, Spain is the largest lemon producer in the world. Spanish lemon production is concentrated in the regions of Murcia and Valencia, and the provinces of Malaga and Almeria in Andalusia.

Italy’s 2019-20 lemon production is forecast to decrease 5.7 percent from the previous year, to 383,000 MT. Heavy rains in the spring that affected flowering is blamed for Italy’s production decrease.

Greece, Portugal and Cyprus are expected to have flat, or slightly positive, production levels compared to the previous year with expected crops of 88,500, 17,000 and 6,000 MT, respectively.

EU lemons are mainly consumed fresh, but Spain has become the second largest global producer of processed lemons, with 20 to 25 percent of Spain’s crop destined for processing.

The EU is a net importer of lemons, with Argentina, South Africa, Turkey and Brazil as the leading suppliers to the EU market, followed by Mexico. Given the expected decline in EU production, imports are expected to grow slightly.      

Export destinations for EU lemons, mainly shipped from Spain, are Switzerland, Canada, the United States and Norway. In 2018-19, EU lemon exports to the United States, mainly from Spain, jumped 86 percent to 7,197 MT, valued at $9 million.

See the full FAS report on EU citrus here.

Read about California lemon industry losses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

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