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.
“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
“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
“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.”