High lemon prices could go higherHigh lemon prices show no signs of coming down anytime soon, shippers said.

The hot markets could get even hotter as summer progresses, said Joan Wickham, manager of advertising and public relations for Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Sunkist Growers.

“Lemon demand continues to be very strong and we expect it to continue increasing as we head into the Fourth of July holiday weekend and throughout the summer,” Wickham said June 24.

John Carter, director of global sales for Limoneira Co., Santa Paula, Calif., agreed.

“Lemon demand has been strong this summer and is expected to continue,” he said. “Supply is tight overall, particularly on larger sizes, and we have seen that quality has been good.”

On June 24, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $36.80-38.90 for 7/10 bushel cartons of lemons 75s from California, up from $23.25-25.80 last year at the same time.

In addition to conventional eureka and lisbon varieties, in the second half of June Sunkist was shipping ample volumes of organic lemons and modest supplies of meyer lemons, zebra (pink variegated) lemons and seedless lemons, Wickham said.

The popularity of lemons as a complement to summer dishes and as an aid to entertaining continues to drive category growth, Wickham said.

Take, for example, lemon-infused cocktails.

“With mixology becoming more popular in restaurants and bars, many consumers are now trying their hand at artisan cocktail making at home,” Wickham said.

Sunkist is doing its part to boost summer demand with new recipes for different lemonades and mixed drinks, she said.

The company also is offering retailers a high graphic lemonade-themed pouch bag to stir consumers’ interest in homemade lemonades.