Argentine citriculture is one of the most important economic and productive activities in the country. More than 132,000 hectares are devoted to these crops, from which about three million tons of oranges, grapefruit, mandarins and lemons are obtained annually. But lemons represent 51% of the total volumen.
The production of Argentine lemons is mainly located in the NOA region, with Tucumán being the province with the largest number of hectares (50,000) and with a 75% share. This province is followed by Salta with approximately 12%, Corrientes with 5% and Jujuy with 3%. Smaller lemon plantations can also be found in Buenos Aires, Catamarca and Entre Ríos.
In addition to providing great economic benefits, the lemon industry is a major source of employment. It is estimated that a total of 44,000 people benefit directly from this production, either by carrying out activities within the industries, nurseries or packaging. On the other hand, an estimated 26,000 temporary employees are engaged in harvesting or cultural tasks during the season, from March/April to September/October.
The lemons have three destinations: industry, export, and domestic market. 75 percent of the lemons grown and harvested in Argentina are destined for the industry to be marketed as juice or for the production of essential oils. In another process, the peel of the fruit is dehydrated and marketed for the production of pectin (binder for food use).
Historically, it was this area that leveraged the development of Argentina’s lemon clusters. Lemon products are processed in domestic industries and then exported. But some producing companies also establish agreements with processing companies within the country to supply them with the raw material used to manufacture, for example, soft drinks.
Another destination of domestic lemons is fresh exports, an activity that concentrates 17% of what is produced in the country. This is an extremely important sector for the national economy and has been growing steadily for many years. According to official statistics, between 2008-2018 a total of 259,346 tons of fresh lemons were exported on average and a growth of 27% was recorded when compared to previous periods.