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national news 7sd pageheader 2019

Why are we paying $2.50 for a lone lemon?

Are you wondering why a single lemon is costing up to $2.50?

According to the citrus industry it is the result of a "perfect storm" of circumstances.

Prices in major grocery retailers have skyrocketed up to $13.80 per kilogram, just as party season gets underway.

The four-fold increase in prices is, according to the industry, a result of multiple factors including a poor exchange rate, the global coronavirus pandemic and that it's off-season for lemons.

Citrus Australia chair, Ben Cant, says a range of factors, all at the same time, have formed a perfect storm to drive up prices.

The bulk of Australia's lemons are grown in winter, due to climate and growing conditions. So to make up the shortfall in other seasons, lemons are imported from the US and Egypt.

But Mr Cant said the exchange rate means the lemons landing here from the US are expensive before they turn up on supermarket shelves. And there have been quality issues with lemons from Egypt.

The impact of COVID-19 and the shutdown of restaurants and bars meant the Australian industry earlier this year worked pro-actively to export our lemons overseas, he added.

"It has been the perfect storm.

"My message would be to anyone who is begrudging paying $2.50 per lemon ... that the citrus industry is, by far and away, made up of small to medium enterprises who are usually family businesses.

"Like a lot of businesses this year, it has been a rollercoaster both emotionally and financially. If you are paying a little bit extra for a lemon, it is going to a good place."

Mr Cant said lemon prices went through the same price rise last year and the industry is working on cold storage trials of lemons grown during the optimum period so that more are available at this time of year.

This would reduce reliance on imports at a time when people want lemons for their gin and tonic and a slice for their fish and chips.

© AAP 2020