Lemon Production in Turkey to Skyrocket

Ernie Neff Export/Import, International

Lemon production in Turkey is expected to increase 27% to 1.4 million metric tons (MT) in 2021-22, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service reported recently. Last season, lemon production reached 1.1 million MT.

Producers are increasing orchard areas due to lemon’s profitability compared to other citrus fruits.

The main problems reported by lemon producers in Turkey are diseases and pests, input costs such as fertilizers and chemicals, labor costs for tree trimming, crop quality and marketing issues. Another problem is the struggle to keep lemons in cold storage for exports. Storage costs are expensive, and producers sometimes use workarounds. For example, some use caves to store lemons. Recently, packaging costs have exceeded production costs as a result of high prices for packaging materials.

Lemon consumption is estimated to increase to 578,000 MT due to high production and the expectation of decreasing lemon prices at markets. With higher market prices and the government-mandated closing of restaurants and cafes in response to COVID-19, lemon consumption in 2020-21 was 433,000 MT. Producers are expecting to sell lemons not only at private commercial markets and supermarkets, but also at government-affiliated agricultural markets that offer consumers lower subsidized prices.

In 2021-22, lemon exports are expected to increase 25% to 775,000 MT. Turkish exporters believe demand will be higher since Argentine lemon stocks are reaching low levels. Turkey generally exports half of its total lemon production.

According to exporters, Spain is the biggest competitor for Turkey.

The Mediterranean fruit fly issue remains the greatest concern among producers and exporters, as the pest is the reason for many of the rejections for Turkish lemons at European Union and Russian ports. Turkey has started to try to combat the Mediterranean fruit fly by biological methods and plot studies.

Other major concerns for lemon exporters are the low unit export prices and the residues of products used to extend longevity in storage.

See the full FAS report on citrus in Turkey.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service

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