This year, Turkish lemon exporters face additional hurdles to exporting to the European Union, which is currently dealing with oversupply thanks to a glut from Argentina and a larger crop from Spain.
According to Esra Söyleyen, marketing manager of Turkish exporter Aksun, each truck loaded with lemons is now charged €700 when it crosses the Bulgarian border into the EU. “Last year, it cost just €350, so this has affected transport costs significantly,” she said.
The EU announced that increased controls on Turkish lemon imports were advisable in light of reports from the EU Food and Veterinary Office in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013 warning of the deficiencies of Turkey’s control system on the marketing and use of phytosanitary products.
“Today we were informed that Spain was pushing the EU to take action about pesticide residues found on Turkish lemons,” said Söyleyen. “But there has been no effect on us so far. We have been supplying our customers for the last 30 years, so they know our quality and trust us.”
Lemon prices are extremely low on the European market, according to Söyleyen, a result of the large volume of Argentine lemons on the market and the bigger than average Spanish crop, forecast to be 22 per cent higher than last year. An added issue is that Russia is yet to reopen its border to Turkish lemons.
“In addition, there are a lot of lemons in stock,” resumed Söyleyen. “Everyone was expecing a good lemon season with high prices, so exporters bought large quantities from the growers, but now the prices are low. We are making 30-35 per cent less in value terms than we were last year.”