Fresh and dried lemons and limes are the 734th most traded product in the world. During 2016, it is estimated that almost US$4.2 billion worth of fresh and dried lemons and limes was exported worldwide, while another US$4.16 billion was imported globally. That same year, the world’s largest exporter of fresh and dried lemons and limes was Spain, representing 20% or US$846 million worth of global exports. Following Spain, the world’s largest exporters of fresh and dried lemons and limes during 2016 were Mexico, totaling 13% or US$541 million of global exports, and Argentina, accounting for 11% or US$454 million. Other major exporters of fresh and dried lemons and limes are the Netherlands, Turkey, South Africa, and the United States. Meanwhile, on a continental level, Europe is the largest exporter of fresh and dried lemons and limes in the world, representing 38% or US$1.6 billion of global exports in 2016.
International Fresh Lime and Lemon Markets
In terms of imports, Europe is by far the largest purchaser of fresh and dried lemons and limes. During 2016, Europe accounted for 66% or US$2.74 billion of global imports. Within Europe, the largest importers of fresh and dried lemons and limes is Germany, totaling 11% or US$450 million worth of global imports. Other majors European importers are France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Russia, Italy, and Spain. However, on a national basis, the United States is the largest importer of fresh and dried lemons and limes, accounting for 12% or US$478 million worth of global imports during 2016. In the case of the United States, a major consumer of fresh and dried lemons and limes, its only domestic supply comes from California and Arizona, which is why the US market is so reliant on imports to meet its domestic demand.
During 2018, the United States is opening its domestic market to lime and lemon imports from Argentina for the first time in almost two decades. While the United States currently imports most of its limes and lemons from Mexico and Europe, this new market window is expected to significantly boost Argentina’s agricultural exports to the US market. Likewise, Argentina is expected to substantially increase its export oriented lime and lemons production, particularly geared towards North American markets. Simultaneously, lime and lemon consumers in the US are expected to benefit from lower prices as well as a larger variety of choice and greater supply, particularly during the northern hemisphere’s winter season.
During 2016, the United States imported a total of US$5.3 billion worth of goods from Argentina. That year, the main Argentine import into the United States were oils, industrial fatty acids, and alcohols (excluding wine), which represented 22% or US$1.17 billion of Argentina’s import into the US market. Meanwhile, two other major exports from Argentina into the US were raw aluminum, totaling 6.4% or US$337 million, and wine, accounting for 6% or US$318 million of all US imports from Argentina. For the upcoming years, limes and lemons are expected to occupy a prominent role in Argentina’s export basket to the United States.