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Lemons: Europe leads world production in 2020

March 1, 2021 at 2:00 PM, Der AUDITOR
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BERLIN/BRUSSELS. Things are running smoothly for European lemon production. Turkey and Argentina, however, are struggling with difficulties.

Spain increases exports by 33%

The world's lemon production increased significantly last year, according to data from the World Citrus Organisation, a global platform for dialogue and action that brings together citrus producing countries. In 2018, production volume was still at 5.7 million mt; in 2020, 6.5 million mt were already registered. Exports also increased noticeably, partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic: Lemons are considered one of the best sources of vitamin C and strengthen the immune system. Spain was able to increase its lemon exports by a full 33% in March 2020 compared to March 2019. A new consumer record was set in European households in the months of March and April 2020, reads a statement from the Association of Lemon and Pomelo Producers in Spain (Asociación Interprofesional de Limón y Pomelo, or AILIMPO). Germany considerably increased its imports. In the 2019-2020 season, lemon imports from the Mediterranean region increased by 16% and amount to 220,000 mt.

Pesticides and pests restrict imports into the EU

Things are not going well for lemon producers in Turkey. After repeated notifications by the European Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) due to high pesticide residues, the European Commission has banned the import and marketing of Turkish lemons in the EU. In addition, in August 2020, the import of lemons from Argentina was banned to prevent the introduction and spread of Phyllosticta citricarpa, a harmful organism that causes the Citrus Black Spot disease. The European model, however, meets demanding standards, so European lemons are usually of very good quality. In addition, farmers have a manual for the treatment and cultivation of lemons in order to obtain a healthy and high-quality product and to avoid problems like in other growing areas. "Food safety and plant health are the key points. The manual is a fundamental and indispensable tool to offer guarantees of the highest quality and food safety," assures Antonio Moreno, president of AILIMPO.

Europe establishes itself

Europe maintains its position as world market leader thanks to its high standards in production and high-quality results. With over 9 million lemon trees, the European Mediterranean region is the main cultivation area, and the trend is growing. In 2020, a crop of 1.9 million mt could be achieved here. This establishes the EU as the world's leading supplier of lemons, ahead of Argentina (1.5 million mt), the USA (798,000 mt) and Turkey (700,000 mt). With 1.2 million tonnes of lemons grown in 2020, Spain is the most important European lemon producer.

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