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Uruguayan lemons approved for export to China

China’s General Administration of Customs announced on Nov. 29 that fresh Uruguayan lemons that meet the stipulated phytosanitary requirements will be allowed to be imported.

China’s customs office has already allowed the entry of other Uruguayan citrus since 2017, except lemons, therefore after this latest announcement, all categories of citrus from Uruguay can enter China.

Uruguay currently has a citrus growing area of 37,500 acres, mainly concentrated on the northern bank of the Uruguay River and in several provinces in the south of the country, with a total annual production of 271,000 metric tons.

Regarding the announcement, Ricardo Moizo, owner and general manager of Don Rufino Srl. Establecimiento Frutícola RMoizo, which exports between 1,500 and 2,000 tons of Eureka and Fino varieties to the European Union and Brazil, commented to FreshFruitPortal.com, “The news was received with great expectation because it refers to opening a huge market for the citrus industry in Uruguay.”

“We knew that the first pilot shipments of sweet citrus were being finalized and then it would be the turn of opening the commercial possibilities for lemon,” Moizo says.

Uruguay is Latin America’s second-largest citrus exporter, exporting about 45% of its total production.

The main citrus fruit is oranges with 40% of total production, followed by mandarins with 35.5% and lemons with 23.5%. Grapefruit and other citrus account for the remaining 1%.

New opportunities

When asked about the opportunities that this opening to the Chinese market provides to the Uruguayan industry, Moizo assures that “In a world market where in recent years the sale of our lemons has slowed down due to the entry into production of new regions very close to the EU and very aggressive in supply, coupled with a drop in sales or consumption in Europe, this negotiation with China opens new opportunities, still to develop them in terms of logistics, dates, interlocutors in China, etc.. There is still a lot of work to be done.”

Despite the announcement, China has identified a total of seven quarantine pests of concern including: South American fruit fly (Anastrepha fraterculus), Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata), rose beetle (Pantomorus cervinus), vine mealybug (Planococcus minor), a plant pathogenic fungus (Elsinoë australis) and two species of mealybugs (Ceroplastes rusci and Coccus perlatus).

Orchards intending to export fresh citrus to China must adhere to good agricultural practices and integrated pest management techniques.

In this regard, Moizo comments “Our expectations will be moderate at first, there is still much work to be done, especially in compliance with the phytosanitary requirements imposed by the Asian country, the cold chain, logistical issues regarding the availability of direct shipping lines, without transshipments, the costs of these sea freight and all the necessary adjustments, which we can certainly go analyzing and overcoming in coordination with the entity that brings us together and that has been instrumental in this negotiation (UPEFRUY).”

“We are undoubtedly ready to take the first steps in pilot shipments from our production area in the south of the country. We are expectant and excited,” concludes Moizo.

Source: Fresh Fruit Portal