Limoneira, a prominent citrus company specializing in growing, packing, selling, and marketing, has revised its forecast for fresh lemon production in the current fiscal year. The updated guidance reveals that fresh lemon volumes are now expected to range between 4.7 million and 5 million cartons for fiscal year 2023. This is a slight adjustment from the previous guidance of 5 million to 5.4 million cartons. In contrast, Limoneira achieved an avocado volume of approximately 3.8 million pounds in fiscal year 2023, surpassing the previous projection of 3 million to 4 million pounds.
Lemon Prices on the Rise
Lemon pricing has been experiencing a consistent increase across all grades and sizes since the beginning of August. These prices have exceeded those seen in recent years and have now reached their peak since 2018. As a result, Limoneira anticipates further growth in lemon prices for fiscal year 2024.
Impact of Third-Quarter Results
Unfortunately, Limoneira’s third-quarter results were impacted by lower lemon pricing and decreased fresh utilization rates caused by heavy rains in California. The rainfall persisted from December until May, resulting in a two-month delay in a portion of the lemon harvest and triggering an industry-wide pest issue that affected the quality of certain fruits. President and CEO Harold Edwards explains that these circumstances placed continued pressure on lemon pricing throughout the quarter.
Third-Quarter Lemon Sales
In terms of lemon revenue during the third quarter, Limoneira recorded $24.2 million in fresh lemon sales. This fell short of the $27.8 million generated during the same period the previous year. The company sold approximately 1.4 million cartons of U.S. packed fresh lemons during this quarter at an average price per carton of $17.92. By comparison, the prior year saw around 1.5 million cartons sold at an average price of $18.39 per carton. The third quarter of fiscal year 2023 also saw brokered lemons and other lemon sales amounting to $8.8 million and $5 million, respectively.
Organic Growth Opportunities
Looking ahead, Limoneira is poised for organic growth opportunities. With 700 acres of non-bearing lemons and avocados, the company estimates that these crops will reach full bearing status within the next four to five years. In addition to this, Limoneira foresees a steady increase in third-party grower fruit.