Despite the difficulties presented by Covid-19 in the first half of 2020, leading US-based importer-exporter Salix Fruits has reported that its Argentinean lemon harvest began in a timely fashion this year, with quality and sizes looking good due to the dry conditions during the spring and the rains toward the end of the summer.
“The inconveniences and delays caused by the mandatory quarantine due to the coronavirus brought delays to the end of March shipments,” says sales manager Juana Elortondo, “but Argentina was able to start its shipments to Russia, Ukraine and Canada without problems.”
Shipments to the US reportedly began in April, while exports to Europe started in early May. “The export of fresh lemons from Argentina, which began this first semester and will continue the rest of the year, is estimated at a volume of 300,000 tonnes,” says Elortondo. “From Salix we are going to market approximately 700,000 boxes."
This volume matches the forecasts made at the start of the year, showing that commercial activity has not been seriously affected by the measures imposed to fight the pandemic.
According to Salix’s latest figures, 200,000 tonnes of Argentine lemons had already been shipped by August, with the top markets being southern Europe (55,000 tonnes), Russia (45,000 tonnes), northern Europe (40,000 tonnes), eastern Europe (18,000 tonnes) and the US (20,000 tonnes). The remainder reportedly goes to Greece, Canada, the UK, the Middle East and Asia.
Although Salix has long been familiar with home offices and virtual conferences, sales director Juan González Pita says a big issue has been the company’s inability to travel to commercial and production areas abroad, as well as the suspension of fairs and exhibitions.
“We don't know how air traffic will be in the short term,” he says, “but for us attending fairs is always very important and a central part of our work – a place where we meet our colleagues, friends, industry people, suppliers.”
In the meantime, the company is apparently focused on providing an increasingly efficient service to producers and customers. “To do this, we have incorporated two new executive sales professionals to be closer to customers in the US and the Middle East,” says Elortondo, “and we have also added Javier Orti to the team for Asia. Likewise, we have expanded the supermarket database in the US for the placement of fruit from all origins.”
Salix Fruits has also signed agreements with new producers in Peru, Egypt and South Africa in order to have a complete and varied offer throughout the year.
Crucial during this Covid-19 crisis has been Salix’s app, which allows producers and customers to track what the company has to offer, including images of the fruit, the origin and the price. According to Salix, the app currently works as an “excellent e-commerce tool”, allowing users to access all documentation and follow orders online.