Major UK multiples are failing to tap into the full potential of seedless lemons, according to Capespan trading director Martin Dunnett.
Dunnett said no multiple here had placed orders this year for Capespan Eureka! seedless lemons. Sainsbury sold 7,000 boxes through its stores last year, but the retailer has not repeated its order.
The lack of interest from the big retailers here is a blow to Capespan’s South African growers, who have upped production from 25,000 50kg cartons last year to 40,000 this year in anticipation of growing consumer demand.
Dunnett said growers had been forced to find markets for the lemons in Japan and the Middle East, although some quantities were still available if any of the retailers here had a change of heart. In spite of this setback, Dunnett predicted a bright future for the innovative citrus, which was produced using traditional cross-pollination techniques.
“Within three to five years, we will be selling 250,000 cartons of seedless lemons. And all lemons sold in the UK will be seedless within 15 years.”
Dunnett said small quantities of non-Capespan seedless lemons were on sale in the UK, but insisted the Eureka! variety was unique. “These are the only guaranteed seedless lemons. You could sit there cutting them all day and wouldn’t find a pip.”
Prices for lemons remain firm, following poor crops in South Africa and Argentina. Prices are £9.50/50kg carton, compared with £7 this time last year.
A 50kg carton of seedless lemons commands a 20% premium over a carton of their seeded counterparts.