Producers believe that one of the reasons for the increase in the price may be the pandemic of the new coronavirus. The high vitamin C content present in the fruit helps in strengthening the immune system to cope with the effects of the virus in case of infection. Doctors claim that vitamin C protects the body’s cells from oxidative stress caused by infections. Producers recorded an increase in demand outside the summer, a time of higher consumption.
For the agronomist producer and engineer Maurício Agostinho, from Itajobi, the search for healthier foods became more intense during the pandemic, especially in Countries in Europe that had a high spread of the virus. The European market is the main destination of Brazilian fruit. “We already had the advantage of the sector not having been affected by the pandemic, as happened with producers of other fruits and vegetables, now has this good price. We have an unusual demand for this time of year and, really, lemon only brings benefits to those who produce and to those who consume.”
He believes that the lower supply in this period, which is off-season, also contributes to the high. “The peak of production happens from January to March, then there is a drop in both production and consumption, which only grows again from August and September, with the arrival of summer. This year, the increase in demand happened earlier and was reflected in prices. At this time, it would be normal to sell the lemon box between R $ 20 and R $ 30. We’re selling more than double.”
Besides being a producer, with 5,500 plants on 16 hectares, Agostinho also owns an agricultural inputs company and assists other lemon producers. He ponders that the high price does not mean that the producer is “swimming” in cash. “You have to consider the average price throughout the year. Today’s figure is helping to offset the low price from the beginning of the year when the lemon was sold below cost. We can’t deny that exporting is a good deal, because there is also the gain in the exchange rate, since we export in dollars or euros.”
The producer Osmar Fernandes de Jesus, also from Itajobi, is at the two ends of the lemon chain. He is a major producer, with 50,000 cultivated lemon trees, and owner of a lemon exporter. In addition to its own production, it processes and exports lemon from other producers in the region. “It’s not every lemon that has a pattern to export. The fruit needs to be good size and be very green, with consistent bark, to support the journey”, he says. The fruits go through a selection process in the packing house of the company. The lemon that does not go abroad is sold to juice processing companies or for fresh consumption.
Source: O Estado de S. Paulo.