Turkey limits lemon exports as demand surges amid pandemic

Imports and Exports | | MIC Customs Solutions |

Turkey wants to stop the key ingredient in a disinfecting solution leaving its shores in such high numbers.

Turkey has placed a cap on the amount of lemons producers in the country can export as demand for the fruit surges during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lemons are widely used in Turkey to produce kolonya (sometimes called cologne), which is a traditional symbol of Turkish hospitality and is often sprinkled on guests' hands when they eat at restaurants or gather for religious services.

However, the substance is also made with ethanol at high concentrations, sometimes containing up to 80 per cent germ-killing alcohol - and it is therefore now being employed as a hand sanitiser in the battle against coronavirus.

Indeed, the nation's health minister championed it as being effective in early March and demand has surged to the extent that producers can barely keep up, particularly since commercial disinfectants are not widely available in Turkey.

The Turkish government had already stopped making ethanol a required component in petrol to help boost supplies, but it has also now taken action to prevent so many lemons leaving the country too.

As of this week, the Western Mediterranean Exporters' Association told its members the citrus fruit will be regulated under the "communique on the products that are banned from exports or subject to permission. During this time, the necessary steps will be taken in order to prepare health certificates for exports".

It means customs declarations for lemons must be registered by the general secretariat of the relevant exporters, as well as getting preliminary approval of the Export Directorate General of the Ministry of Trade.

The trade body said it expects the restrictions to be in place until the end of August, when they will be reviewed once more.

Turkey has also limited exports of medical equipment such as ventilators and personal protective equipment to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Adana and Mersin, two cities in southern Turkey, are the nation's most important lemon-producing regions and together cover 70 per cent of total production.

In 2018, citrus fruit made up almost half of Turkey's fresh produce exports. It is the second-biggest exporting country of such products in the world and the eighth-biggest producer.