California's recent heat wave and prolonged drought have reduced lemon supplies, sending prices soaring. Temperatures as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the US’ largest lemon producing state have caused premature ripening of fruits and fruit drop leading to approximately 18 percent crop damage. This shortfall was exacerbated by weather issues in Mexico and a lack of sufficient shipments from Argentina, a major US lemon export market.
The lemon shortage comes at a time of heightened US consumption. The increased popularity of lemons in lemonades, juices, and salad dressings and away from processed lemon products is fueling the demand. Fresh lemons are increasingly being used in restaurants for cooking and as garnish in cocktails. With demand exceeding supply, prices have jumped by 49 percent between June and July, reaching an all-time high of $50 per carton.
These bitter market conditions are expected to stretch well into September. Retailers have removed lemons from their shelves and advised consumers to switch to limes. As the market struggles to keep up with the growing demand for lemons, Gro Intelligence subscribers can stay up-to-date with the citrus industry by monitoring temperatures and lemon prices.