Greater Lemon Production in Chile

Josh McGillCrop Forecast, International, lemons

Lemon production in Chile is expected to increase by 26.4% in 2022–23 and total 172,000 metric tons (MT), the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS) reported.

lemon production
Photo by Madison Inouye

Favorable climatic conditions and an increase in water supplies in the Coquimbo region pushed up lemon yields, and thus overall production.

In 2022–23, total area planted in Chile reached 8,080 hectares, a 0.5% increase over 2021–22. This signifies a slowdown in growth of the planted area observed over the past three marketing years.

Lemon production and exports have surged as a profitable alternative in the Coquimbo, Valparaíso and Metropolitana regions. Other crops such as table grapes have experienced a decrease in grower returns due to low prices.

The Metropolitana region, in the central part of Chile,
holds 41.1% of the lemon-planted area, making it the top producing region. The Coquimbo region holds 1,628 hectares of lemons, which represents 20.3% of the country’s lemon acreage.

In Chile, the lemon marketing year starts in April with the beginning of the harvest season. The bulk of exports take place between June and September and peak in July or August.

In 2022–23, lemon exports are expected to increase by 33.9% and reach 75,000 MT following the increase in production and drop in freight costs. In 2021–22, freight costs increased significantly due to high demand from exporters and a tight supply of shipping containers. Due to lower production caused by frost and high freight costs, lemon exports decreased by 44.9% in 2021–22 and totaled 56,000 MT.

The United States is the top market for Chilean lemons. In 2021–22, Chile exported 31,222 MT to the United States, which represented 55.5% of export volume. Chile also exported lemons to Japan, China and South Korea.

Chile imported 12,267 MT of lemons in 2021–22. Chile imports lemons from Peru, Brazil, Colombia and the United States. Historically the top supplier has been Peru, due to its proximity to Chile.

See the USDA FAS report on Chilean citrus

Source: USDA FAS

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