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New season’s production is forecast to be as high as 2019’s

The slide in Argentina's lemon juice prices is continuing, in contrast to earlier hopes that the market had bottomed out and prices would start to firm.

There is some variation in quotes for Argentina 400gpl juice, but the lowest seems to be around USD2,000 per tonne cfr Rotterdam, which would equate to around USD1,900/tonne fob. This represents a fall of around USD500/tonne from mid-2019. Argentine prices peaked at around USD3,200/tonne fob in the second half of 2018 and have been falling ever since.

Even with 14.4% European duty on imported Argentine juice, this makes prices competitive with those from Spain.

In addition, it is believed that large inventories remain in Argentina. “There are big stocks,” a contact confirmed. “Some processors have big inventories and with the new crop around the corner, they are pushing prices down and down. And there is no demand. So you see prices of USD2,000/tonne and, sure, even lower.

“The next harvest will be good, so this trend could continue.”

Lemon oil is around USD12-15 per kilo for relatively low quality product: USD15/kg and upwards for better.

Reports of a second large harvest are confirmed by a new report from the USDA, which predicts that the new season will see a harvest of 1.6 million tonnes, the same as the last. The 2017/18 harvest was just over 1.3 mln tonnes.

Even with the forecast increase in fresh exports to 300,000 tonnes. The US is probably going to buy more fresh lemons, but as exports last season were only 290,000 tonnes, there is still probably going to be an over-supply of fruit. A European buyer confirmed that they had no immediate requirements for lemon juice, but wold make some enquiries next month.

Spanish lemon production will be slightly down in the 2019/20 season, but Spain’s main market is the fresh and it only processes about a quarter of its fruit, whereas Argentina uses the bulk of its harvest for lemon juice.

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