Citrusvil’s campaign progresses at a steady pace
The spread of the Coronavirus reached Argentina at a key moment for local citrus farming. Just as Citrusvil was preparing to start the 2020 campaign, the company found itself facing an unexpected situation, which led it to rethink its actions and adapt its facilities to keep production processes active and redouble efforts to keep collaborators safe.
Citrusvil started the season with the objective of exporting 40,000 tons of fresh fruit. Considering that this year, its farms are offering a better quality of lemons thanks to continuous improvement in management, added to the good weather, the company can continue providing customers with the products they require and fulfil all commercial commitments.
The first shipments were mainly destined for the markets of Russia, Ukraine, Mexico, Canada, the Far and Middle East. Around the middle of April, the firm started shipping to Europe and the United States, where the aim is to triple export volume from last year. At the moment, Citrusvil has exported around 14,000 tons to all destinations, which represents a significant step towards achieving its goals.
“However, we are aware that the season is complex and uncertain, since we must consider different variables that come into play based on the pandemic, in addition to internal and external competition,” said Francisco Rotella, Citrusvil’s fresh fruit commercial manager.
On the one hand, although there has been an increase in demand for lemon, due to the importance of Vitamin C for strengthening the immune system and the need for the population to stay as healthy as possible, there was also a sharp contraction in consumption in the food service channel, a critical sector for the food industry, which represents 40% of consumption in Europe, and 60% in the US.
On the other hand, South Africa has entered the fray, and aims to export a volume of 400,000 tons of lemons this year, compared to the 300,000 tons that Argentina seeks to reach. Finally, although Spain will have a lower production, it continues to play an active part in the European market.
“Taking into account the volumes already shipped by the Southern Hemisphere (Argentina and South Africa), and considering the potential of these origins, it is not clear how consumption will be affected by post-COVID-19 tourism activity, especially in Europe, which is a key market for us, accounting for 60% of lemon shipments ,” said Rotella.
Regarding industrial production, Citrusvil started the season with a goal of processing 250,000 tons of fruit. The strict protocols established by the company in order to ensure the continuity of its operations allowed it to start the season in a timely manner, and progress correctly with production, to the point that to date it has processed 90,000 tons.
“This volume is above what was initially projected, which gives us to understand that, despite the limitations generated by the pandemic, the company is moving firmly and positively towards the proposed objective,” said Alex Nolte, commercial manager of Citrusvil.
Although a 10% decrease in lemon production at the national level was initially expected, as the season has progressed, it appears that the reduction will be even greater than initially forecast. However, the drop in production in Spain suggests that there is the possibility of sending more juice to different markets.
Unlike fresh fruit, juices have not had the same impact on sales growth, despite also containing vitamin C. Still, it should be noted that for Citrusvil, the market for this product is recovering, and that sales of peel and oils are developing at a good rate.
“There are many diverse external factors that interfere with our operations today, which is why we must try to anticipate the inconveniences in order to minimise the impact that they could have on our organisation,” said Nolte.
Global uncertainty is generating unpredictable buyer behaviour, which makes long-term planning difficult and challenges the company to rethink its strategies and be more creative on a day-to-day basis.
Meanwhile, Citrusvil continues to work to ensure the responsible sourcing of its supply chains. The firm is always focused on research and innovation to improve its product portfolio and develop new solutions that meet the specific needs of customers. At the same time, it takes care of the health and integrity of its collaborators, suppliers and consumers.