Lemon-loaded ‘steam train’ a con­cern for grow­ers

Main­tain­ing healthy re­turns in the face of in­creas­ing vol­umes of fruit is one of the ma­jor chal­lenges fac­ing lemon grow­ers, the 2017 New Zealand Cit­rus Grow­ers con­fer­ence was told.

The Orchardist - - Conference 2017 -

“There are new plant­ings in pro­duc­tion now and news of tens of thou­sands of trees go­ing in the ground in Gis­borne, and we have seen a do­mes­tic price drop of around 73 cents a kilo,” said lemon, lime and grape­fruit prod­uct group chair­man Lloyd Foss.

“This is only go­ing to get worse in the com­ing years so in­creas­ing vol­umes could be a real prob­lem.”

Be­cause lemon trees are easy to ac­cess and don’t carry ex­tra costs like li­cences, they are at­trac­tive to new en­trants to the in­dus­try. And adding to the pool is an up­swing of pro­duc­tion in coun­tries like South Africa and Chile, where pro­duc­tion costs are lower.

“If we are go­ing to get good re­turns for grow­ers, we need to find a home for all this fruit,” Foss said. “There is a steam train

com­ing our way and we need to be ready.”

One thing to con­sider could be work­ing more col­lab­o­ra­tively,” added Ian Al­bers, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing com­pany

First Fresh.

“If we are go­ing into a mar­ket like China, and if we are go­ing to dou­ble

our vol­umes in three years, that is not some­thing that can be done by one in­di­vid­ual mar­ket­ing com­pany,” he

said.

“There is the po­ten­tial of work­ing in loose col­lab­o­ra­tives – like they do in the av­o­cado in­dus­try – based around a co­he­sive mar­ket­ing strat­egy. The sooner we all re­alise the chal­lenges posed by over­seas com­peti­tors and start work­ing to­gether, the bet­ter.”

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