Despite the rising demand for lemons, there has been a low supply in the local and export markets which has made the prices hike. The consumption and usage of lemons have increased due to their health benefits and high nutritional value. Besides, they contain essential immunity-building vitamins for fighting COVID-19. The prices are expected to hike to Ksh 200 per kilo since the demand supersedes the supply.
Lemons still dominate the citrus pandemic demand wave in the European market. The wholesale demand for fresh lemons is still high despite having little flexibility. The regular shortfalls and growing consumption provide unlimited opportunities to lemon farmers in Kenya. Although Spain is the dominant supplier, their production is still low to sustain the increasing demand, especially in Northern Europe. Since the supply is still low, most nations are forced to import lemons from other non-European nations. The Netherlands provides the largest markets for lemons.
Why is the demand for Kenyan fresh lemons in the European markets expected to increase?
Previously, the European market was depending on supplies from Spain. Spain was producing more than 80 percent of the total lemons consumed in Europe. However, regular shortfalls in the Spanish supply and the increasing consumption of lemons have fueled the demand for non-European lemons, with most nations exporting from Africa and South America. In the 2015-2016 season, there was a tremendous reduction in the Spanish supplies by close to 23% due to harsh climatic conditions that affected the trees during the flowering stage. From 2016, lemon imports into Europe increased rapidly than expected. Since the supply reduced when the Spanish production decreased, the prices for lemons hiked and the demand has been rising each year to fill in the demand gap.
Besides, Europe also relies on supplies from Turkey, South Africa, and Argentina, especially in summer. Currently, the lemon trade is susceptible due to fluctuations since the number of countries supplying lemons to Europe is limited. Prices are likely to increase if the supplies from any of the main lemon exporters are affected by fruit diseases or the changing climate.
Regular shortfalls from the Spanish supply and the increasing consumption of lemons provide unlimited opportunities for Kenyan producers to exploit. Europe provides a large market for lemons and Kenyan lemons lie in a better position of accessing the lucrative European market. The good relationship between Kenya and the European Union makes it easier for Kenyan lemons to penetrate the European Union markets. An increase in prices is expected from June or July. However, Kenyan producers should produce high-quality fruits to be able to deal with the strong competition from other exporters such as Turkey, Spain, Argentina, and South Africa.
Which European countries should Kenyan lemon producers and exporters target?
The demand for imported lemons is highest in Northern Europe especially in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. However, these nations mainly rely on supplies from Spain. To complement its production, Italy imports from other countries while Poland mainly imports Turkish lemons. The Netherlands imports large volumes of non-European lemons from other countries such as Argentina and South Africa to meet the increasing demand. These markets can provide unlimited opportunities for Kenyan producers and exporters since the demand for non-European lemons quite high.