Ailimpo, the Murcia-based interprofessional organisation representing the Spanish lemon industry, has revealed that it has secured EU funding to launch what it has called 'the most ambitious promotion, information and dissemination campaign in its history'.
The campaign, which has adopted the slogan 'Welcome to the Lemonage', will combine communication, PR and advertising actions both inside and outside the internal market.
According to Ailimpo the initiative has been allocated a budget of €6.5m over the next three years (2020-2022), with about €5.23m going to internal market programmes (France, Spain, and Germany) and €1.27m to third countries (US and Canada).
European lemons, which are mostly Spanish, have traditionally maintained a position of leadership in EU markets and specifically in Spain, France, and Germany, but competition from third countries is increasing considerably.
“It is necessary to promote the positioning of lemons produced in Europe so that European consumers value and appreciate the intrinsic and differentiating characteristics, such as freshness, sustainability, and quality assurance, in efforts to maintain and increase consumption – making this citrus fruit attractive to new generations of consumers,' Ailimpo outlined.
The challenges of the promotional programme are, the body continued, to identify European and Spanish lemons with the Mediterranean diet; maintain the leading position for European consumers; increase the visibility of the value of the fresh/processed product in Europe, including freshness, certified quality assurance and sustainability; make European lemons a favourite among consumers over third-country produce; and inform and reach out to new generations, encouraging new uses and consumption trends.
Spain is the world leader in fresh lemon exports and ranks second in the ranking of processing countries, with an annual turnover of €700m and 20,000 direct jobs as well as sales in ancillary industries amounting to more than €250m.
The lemon sector also contributes to environmental sustainability, according to Ailimpo, with a positive net balance of 304,840 tonnes of CO2 sequestered per year.
Some 24 per cent of total lemon production in Spain is dedicated to meeting industry demand, 13 per cent for consumption in the internal market, 56 per cent for exports to EU countries and 5 per cent for exports to third countries.
In Spain, around 40,000ha are dedicated to the production of fresh lemons, housing just over 9m lemon trees.
The country's lemon sector is accredited to be able to sell its produce, both fresh and industrial, proved by quality seals such as GlobalGAP and GRASP.
More than 90 per cent of fresh lemon exports are concentrated in the 28 markets of the current EU. Germany remains the leading destination for fresh lemon exports from Spain, followed by France, the UK and Italy.
These four markets amount to more than 420,000 tonnes, 72 per cent of total exports, while fresh market turnover in the EU amounted to €671m in the 2017/2018 campaign.
Exports to markets outside the EU amounted to 34,088 tonnes in the 2017/2018 campaign, and Spanish lemons were consumed in 46 countries outside the EU. This volume represents 5 per cent of the total exports of lemons produced in Spain, with a turnover of around €41m.