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Spain’s lemon crop is expected to reach 1.29m tonnes in 2020/21, an increase of 8 per cent on last year, according to the latest forecast from Ailimpo.

Fino production is forecast to rise by 14 per cent to 947,000 tonnes, while Verna output is set to fall by 5 per cent to 344,000 tonnes.

The Fino season kicked off at the end of September and will get into full swing this month, with supply running through to July. With harvesting running somewhat earlier than usual, there is sufficient quality and sizes to begin the season with good rhythm, Ailimpo said.

With Covid-19 pushing up costs along the entire supply chain, producers will be hoping for strong demand as consumers continue to seek out foods that are high in vitamin C.

“The increase in costs caused by Covid-19 must be taken into account by the market with the aim of achieving a correct balance of prices and distribution of economic value along the chain,” said director José Antonio García.

The start of the Fino harvest also marks the launch of Ailimpo’s ambitious marketing campaign designed to boost the profile of Spanish lemons. Under the slogan “Welcome to the Lemonage”, the €6.5m, three-year promotion features two separate campaigns, one in Spain, France and Germany and the other in the US and Canada.

It is aimed mainly at younger consumers, with a strong focus on social media and TV, and reinforces the message that lemons are a sustainable, fresh and high quality product and an excellent source of vitamin C.

Meanwhile, Ailimpo’s production estimate for the 2020/21 grapefruit campaign, which gets underway this month, points to a crop of 73,692 tonnes compared with a total of 85,688 tonnes for 2019/20.