Top 5 exporters of lemons in the world

The leading exporters of lemons (fresh or dried) worldwide in 2021 are, in descending order, Spain, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Africa and Turkey.

Supply and demand for fresh lemons can vary from year to year depending on growing and market conditions, which can impact the availability of fresh lemons available for processing.

For example, in the United States, the largest importer of this product, the 2021 lemon crop was down 18% from the previous year due to adverse growing conditions.

Covid-19 restrictions on bars, restaurants, schools, cruise lines, and other commercial food service operations that were subject to closures and limited capacities nearly eliminated demand for an entire class and size of fresh lemons, resulting in an increased supply of lemons available for processing in the United States.

In 2021, Spain exported lemons with a customs value of $951 million, a year-over-year drop of 8%, according to World Trade Organization (WTO) data.

In contrast, exports of lemons from Mexico increased at an annual rate of 36%, to $690 million.

Exporters of lemons

Commercial lemon production in the United States is concentrated in California (50,000 crop acres) and Arizona (7,300 crop acres).

According to the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), lemons in that nation are grown primarily for the fresh market; those with imperfections or that do not meet size or grade standards are removed from the fresh market and sent for processing into various products, including lemon juice.

Historically, when the quantity of fresh lemons meeting fresh market standards exceeded the quantity of fresh lemons demanded, additional lemons were diverted for processing; however, this practice may have declined as growth in demand for fresh lemons and limes has outpaced growth in U.S. domestic production.

Other leading exporters of lemons in 2021 were: the Netherlands ($357 million, 9% year-over-year growth), South Africa ($348 million, -7%), and Turkey ($292 million, +7 percent).

The WTO estimates that world imports were down 1 percent year-on-year in 2021, to $3.799 billion.


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