Features

  • 13 Jul
    Global – Salix Fruits: “To buy, or not to buy, that is the question” … for processed lemon by-products this season

    Global – Salix Fruits: “To buy, or not to buy, that is the question” … for processed lemon by-products this season

    Special report

    The uncertainty surrounding the development of the world´s coronavirus pandemic, and the good weather conditions during the second half of March, encouraged Argentine growers to accelerate the lemon harvesting. This season, Salix Fruits, a company specialized in fresh fruit, started a new business unit Processed Products. The company comments on the current situation regarding the marketing of lemon juice concentrate (LJC) and essential lemon oil (ELO) to help with a better planning of the rest of the year:

    “For 2020 in Argentina, a drop in the lemon harvest is estimated due to the drought suffered in the end of last winter and during last spring, added to a very hot summer. Besides, the COVID-19 made the harvesting start very aggressive, cutting lemons that were still a bit small”, says Daniel Calvo, head of Salix Foods, a new division of Salix Fruits.

    This is why a decrease of 30% in production is estimated for this year and, if these numbers are confirmed, processing in 2020 could be in the range of 1 / 1.1 MM tonnes, which is a very important drop. In fact, according to internal estimates, until the end of May 400K tonnes had been processed, when last year, by the same time, the number was in the order of 500K tonnes.

    The impact of this fall in the ELO market is already evident. It is known that around 50% of ELO production is marketed with a leading soft drink company under a long-term agreed pricing scheme that is not subject to market supply and demand. The surplus is traded on the spot market, which is smaller and with a very stable demand, so in this case, the volume of supply ends up defining the prices.

    In this sense, the current season shows a behaviour opposite to that of previous seasons. Indeed, 2019 began with an over-stock of ELO as a result of the excellent 2018 season, record production in Argentina, with 1.5 MM of processed tonnes and also with an excellent content of oil in fruit. Last year it remained at high levels of processing (1.4 MM), and there were also processing record figures in the Northern Hemisphere, preventing the market from finding price stability. The impact was, they went to less than half price, from the 20/22 range, it dropped to 8/10 USD/kilo.

    “This year, with a normal (or less that normal) season in the Northern Hemisphere, and the drop mentioned in Argentina, it is expected that in 2020 the reverse process will occur. Given that the fixed price market always withdraws the same quantity, the decrease would only impact the spot market, causing prices to rise”, says Esteban Lazzo, specialist in the ELO market, and adds: “In fact, the price has currently recovered to the level of 11/13 USD/kilo, and our experience is that the demand for ELO is quite inelastic, so if there is a drop in supply in that proportion, it would not be unusual for prices to rise to the range of 15/18 USD/kilo or even more”.

    Concerning the marketing of LJC, the drop in the behaviour of supply is clear, but not that of demand, which has not recovered from the COVID-19 effect. However, a price accommodation is observed since last year, which started in a range of 2200/2400 USD/tonne, it reached a floor of 1700 USD/tonnes, and even for products from other origins, it was paid 1500 USD/tonnes. Currently, small volume operations are closed in the range of 1800/2000 USD/tonnes, for close deliveries.

    “Buyers are evaluating how the market will react after COVID-19, as consumption has been greatly affected by the change in traditional sales channels – hotels, catering, restaurants, which have suffered greatly from the sharp drop in tourism and recreation, and purchases are only maintained in retail where demand is not so strong. There is still little talk about annual programs, both due to the uncertainty of demand and the processing projections discussed”, explains Esteban Gagliardi, Commercial Manager of the company’s juices.

    Calvo affirms that the financial crisis in Argentina, the lack of credit and the stoppage of COVID-19, makes it very costly for processors on the supply side to maintain stocks and those who are in a position to wait could benefit due to a strengthening of the market. On the demand side, the choice is: buy cheaper now and expose yourself to a decrease in demand or wait for the evolution of demand and buy more expensive. “The early purchase with volumes limited to realistic estimates seems to be the best move”, concludes Calvo.

    Salix is a global import-export company of fresh fruit, an American Company based in Atlanta and has a wide portfolio of over 25 produce items, but focuses on apples, lemons, oranges, tangerines, pears and grapes. The company works with more than 80 loyal growers in 18 countries, and 400 customers in 57 countries.

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 12 May
    Immunity – is there a role for 100% fruit juices in supporting immune function?

    Immunity – is there a role for 100% fruit juices in supporting immune function?

     

    Carrie Ruxton PhD RD, nutrition advisor to Fruit Juice Matters provides some background.

     

    Bottles of vitamin C supplements are flying off the shelves and there may be an upturn in orange juice sales across Europe, but is there any truth in public and media perceptions that certain vitamins or foods can help in the fight against COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses?

    Certainly, medical teams in China and the US are racing to test high doses of vitamin C in intensive care patients, while health experts in some parts of Europe have suggested wide-spread vitamin D supplementation as a way to bolster the public’s immune systems against COVID-19. Low blood levels of both vitamin C and vitamin D are known to be risk factors for contracting acute respiratory infections, as well as experiencing worse symptoms.

    What is immunity?

    Before we consider how nutrients and specific foods could help support immune function, it’s worth reminding ourselves what the immune system actually comprises since it isn’t like a simple dial that can be turned up or down! Immunity is, in fact, highly complex and involves both the innate and adaptive immune systems which combine to fight off infections and foreign bodies.

    Innate immunity is the ‘quick response’ baseline protection we have from birth that includes our skin, gut environment, and types of immune cells including phagocytes and natural killer cells. Adaptive immunity is slowly learnt in response to new bacteria or viruses, and relies on the actions of T lymphocytes and B lymphocytes which target and destroy bacteria or virus-infected cells in our bodies. It is the adaptive system that generates an immune memory to enable our bodies to recognise specific viruses and bacteria next time they attack.

    One issue with the popular concept of ‘boosting’ immunity is that we actually don’t want this to happen. Like many other body systems, such as blood glucose levels or brain oxygen levels, our immune response works across a tight optimal range. Too low and our sluggish system will not successfully attack and contain pathogens, but too high and we are at risk of developing so-called autoimmune conditions where the body’s overreactive immune response starts to attack normal healthy tissues. Examples of these conditions include type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

    Focus on vitamin C

    A new study published in Nutrients calls for governments and health officials to consider implementing strategies to provide “nutritional support for the immune system” in order to “limit the impact of seasonal and emerging viral infections”.

    For vitamin C, daily intakes of at least 200 mg/day were recommended for healthy individuals increasing to 1–2 g/day for those suffering from respiratory illnesses. The rationale for this advice is that vitamin C supports reduction in the risk, severity and duration of upper and lower respiratory tract infections. In addition, studies show that vitamin C requirements increase during infection.

    According to a free-to-access report by a pharmacist and dietitian, published on the Fruit Juice Matters website, vitamin C has several roles in supporting optimal immunity, such as:

    • Influencing the production of interferon, a protein made by immune cells which can inhibit virus replication including the influenza A virus;
    • Anti-inflammatory activity – inflammation is one of the factors causing symptoms during viral infections, such as a stuffy nose or aches and pains. Vitamin C has been found to reduce lung inflammation caused by viral infection;
    • Acting as a powerful antioxidant which shields immune cells and other cells in the body under attack by the free radicals released during rapid immune response;
    • Supporting normal collagen synthesis (there is an authorised health claim for this in Europe) which is needed to stabilise the cell barriers protecting the respiratory tract, skin and gut from pathogenic bacteria and viruses;
    • Enhancing the activation of T and Natural Killer cells (types of immune cells) and repressing the viral lytic cycle (the stage at which a virus bursts out of the host cell to infect other cells).

    Immune health claims in Europe

    What we can reasonably expect is that living a healthy lifestyle, including avoidance of smoking and excess alcohol, staying within a normal body weight, and eating a balanced nutritious diet, will deliver an immune system that works within the optimal range. This is where immune-supporting nutrients and foods can have a role, as recognised by the European Food Safety Authority which gave a positive opinion on immune health claims for several vitamins and minerals (Table).

    Vitamins and minerals with authorised health claims for contributing to the normal function of the immune system

    Nutrient Key dietary sources
    Vitamin A Dairy foods, oily fish, vegetables
    Folate (vitamin B9) Fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables
    Vitamin B6 Pork, poultry, soya, fish, eggs, wholegrains
    Vitamin B12 Liver, beef, oily fish, fortified cereals, yeast extract
    Vitamin D Oily fish, eggs, red meat, fortified foods
    Iron Red meat, beans, pulses, green leafy vegetables
    Selenium Brazil nuts, tuna, turkey
    Zinc Meat, fish, eggs, cheese

     

    Where does juice fit in?

    As most people at present don’t take supplements on a regular basis, the immune-supporting nutrients will tend to come from their diets. In the case of vitamin C, this will be from eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits, fruit juices and berries which all have a rich vitamin C content as well as providing bioactive substances such as polyphenols and carotenoids which support health.

    Just one glass of orange juice daily can supply 80-100% of the official reference intake for vitamin C. Orange juice is also a source of folate, which has an authorised immune claim, and potassium, which is proven to support normal blood pressure. Most other fruit juices and smoothies will qualify for a ‘rich in’ source for vitamin C and can put this on pack alongside the authorised wording of the health claim “vitamin C contributes to the normal function of the immune system”. Manufacturers should take care not to overstep the legal limits of this wording as claims to ‘boost’, ‘enhance’ or ‘protect’ immune function would not be accepted by regulators.

    Apart from the nutritional composition of 100% fruit juices, which clearly has the potential to make an important contribution to levels of vitamin C, potassium and folate, a daily glass of fruit juice complements fruit and vegetable consumption, which is low across many countries.

    • Surveys show that a third of Europeans don’t eat fruit and vegetables on a daily basis, while only 14% achieve the recommended five servings a day.

    In some countries, such as the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Romania, 100% fruit juice is included in official recommendations to promote fruit consumption.

    In conclusion, while the juice industry should never claim that its products will prevent or protect against COVID and other viral illnesses, it is reasonable to show how drinking a daily glass of 100% juice will boost vitamin C and folate intakes and, through that route, support normal immune function.

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 12 May
    Covid-19  How our readers respond to crisis all over the world

    Covid-19 How our readers respond to crisis all over the world

     

    We asked readers to let us know what’s happening in their region, how their business and people are being affected by the current virus crisis. Thank you, to all those who responded.  Please keep your comments coming.

    ALGERIA – Slim Othmani, President of  NCA-Rouiba in Algeria

    We have almost stopped our production lines and have reduced the distribution coverage (may geographical areas non accessible). We couldn’t afford credit to our customers. It was almost impossible for us to pay our suppliers and also our banks.

    Many of our suppliers have put on hold their operations. We are trying to work with the local drink producers association to get the right support from the government to overcome all the issues we are facing.

    Due to the perception that juice is a healthy product, most probably we will witness a boom in juice consumption mainly fresh or NFC when this is all over. Are we going to be able to outsource all the fruits needed to support this? Does this mean major changes in production equipment? Is it the end of recipes with preservative added?

    We will witness fast digitalisation and robotization of all the supply chain and many boring jobs will most probably disappear as a result of this crisis.

     

    INDONESIA – Yos Putra Surya, Senior Account Manager, PT Great Giant Pineapple

    Since second half last year, the processed pineapple market has already started to experience an upward trend mainly due to shortage of supply in Thailand, the main country producer.  However, for pineapple juice concentrate, there are some inventories available in Europe from preceding over supply period, which hold the market price from increasing sharply like what has happened in the canned pineapple market.

    The covid-19 outbreak in Europe, has brought additional pineapple juice demand and thus reduced those inventories considerably. As a result, the present market price has climbed to USD 2,300-2,400/MT FOB for PJC 60brix. Since forecasted supply for processed pineapple will remain short, at least, till next Thai summer crop in 2021. It will be no surprise to see previous historical high market price level repeat itself in the coming months.

    The Ministry of Industry has issued a circular that provides guidelines on how factories should operate during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The Circular Letter No. 4/2020 on Factory Operations amidst the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency is aimed at supporting industries in continuing their operations with the established healthcare protocols, which include screening workers by measuring their body temperatures and restricting the number of workers in public facilities such as mosques and canteens. In general, our government has taken the necessary steps and measures to contain covid-19 outbreaks. One approach is a limited lockdown to particular region/red zones areas.

    To give strength to the industry longer term, the juice industry needs to reinvent itself and its image as a provider of antioxidants and multivitamin drinks which everyone can benefit from. Aside from traditional juices like apple, orange and pineapple, an innovation of combined fruits and vegetable drinks will be even more attractive for consumers who look for healthier and a less sweet drink.

    For the future – since this pandemic period will last for months, so consumers are forced to be more selective in their spending and eventually look for basic need items especially the ones which can offer longer shelf life, and juice is among their options during this period of time. The consumers’ memory of current pandemic threats, their buying & consumption behaviour during this period of time will have profound influence to their future buying selection/choices, not only current generation but few generations to come.

     

    US – Lukas Oest, Head of Global Marketing Development, Florida Worldwide Citrus

    For Florida Worldwide Citrus, one of the biggest changes the current virus has made to our business is related to our operations and company culture. We are a family-owned operation that prides itself on efficient and high-quality service. To continue providing such service in the midst of this pandemic, we have split our team into two shifts with rotating days in the office and working remotely. We quickly had to adapt to new operational procedures and channels of communication. It has been a welcomed challenge for us.

    Located in Southwest Florida, our company is grateful for the community resources we have available to us including the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation, local chambers of commerce and the Small Business Development Centre.  All have done a fantastic job communicating available help to businesses like ours.

     

    SOUTH AFRICA – Anton Reinecke, MD, Ceres Fruit Processors (Pty) Ltd

    Fortunately we are allowed to continue working under our lockdown rules due to being an essential food service. The biggest impact is on deliveries to cider manufacturers, which have been hugely delayed, because no alcohol sales are allowed in SA during lockdown. Also, banks are more cautious, so this may affect facilities. I am unsure of the impact of lockdown on consumer behaviour.  Less socializing – less alcohol, but perhaps juice consumption will increase in general as a result.

     

    SWITZERLAND – Frank Hofer, CEO Frutco

    It is indeed a very difficult time. Around our Frutco Team, we see many SMEs suffering. All the businesses which are not primary care are closed with tremendous consequences for the staff and owners. The Swiss Government is helping where they can, but even with this help, it is tough for the economy. Nearly 30% of the employed people are in short-time work.

    Doubts and uncertainty is gnawing on the souls. We believe that this situation will follow us the whole year until we come back to normal. But then the world has changed.

    Frutco went very well prepared into the crisis. Since end of January we activated the Pandemic Plan and everything was tested and trained again. It is now more than 3 weeks that the whole team is working from home offices. Only 1 person per office building is present to do the work, which cannot be done virtual. We have separated our storage in different warehouses in Holland, so that we will always be able to fulfil our supplies, in case one of the warehouses should get contaminated.

    On the other hand our investment in Latin America got postponed by about a month, due to a shutdown ordered by the Colombian government. Nevertheless, up to now in none of the countries in which we are working any problem with regards to affected workers in the processing or on the farms has occurred. The farms are working normal and people keep the rules of social distancing.

    The food service sector is down a lot. In our case, the food service people are supporting the bulk container business. On the other hand we have seen a huge upturn for these customers who are using our ingredients for health claims.

    Some customers in Italy filled their stocks, to keep the ability to deliver. Not clear until is the question will the supply chains stay stable. We don’t know how the crisis will affect Latin America. Some irregularity of deliveries and late payments are seen but most of the businesses are running more and less normal.

    We had to increase the working capital in order to prolong some payment terms for customers in very much affected regions, in collaboration with the credit insurance company and approved 2nd or 3rd suppliers. We believe that we may keep the budget 2020 as long as the supply chains are up and running. Some containers are short but our team could solve these problems always on time.

    The team is missing the social contacts within Frutco  and the physical contact with suppliers and customers. Today everything goes through Skype.

    At the end of the day, when the crisis is over I don’t believe that there will be a change how the public sees fruit juice beverages. The sugar discussion will come up again. Therefore we are working on solutions which will match this issue and will help to demonstrate the value of a good fruit juice. All our research work stays on track und soon our banana fibres will be ready to enter the market.

     

    US – Remer Lane, Investments in Juice businesses, M&A, Strategy and Sustainability Solutions

    My business has improved. While socializing is down, the companies with whom I deal are looking for improved financial conditions; supply chain solutions for delayed or alternative suppliers; considerations for new technologies that address sustainability, AI and automation.

    In regards to the virus, we have accommodated the requests to reduce movement and thus infections. That has worked and we have no issues with government activities to-date.

    Where might you see the juice industry in 12 months’ time? The juice industry has an opportunity now to increase its profile as providing the right nutrition at the right time. Sugar consumption seems to be off the radar and vitamin intake more important. We need to build on that.  Increased consumption of vitamin rich 100% juices especially OJ is likely.

    We need to launch a marketing campaign immediately to promote the role vitamins supplied by juices play in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and giving our bodies the right nutrition to fight virus’.

    US – Steve Cockram, General Manager, Growers Co-op Grape Juice Co

    We have all have been forced into a very different world.  Right now demand for juice is actually increasing.  Now that it seems that the food and transportation industries have been deemed to be essential, so we can stay open.  The big short term fear is the health of our employees.  One sickness and we may be shut down for a couple weeks.  Long term, we wonder how to do harvest if COVID is raging in our area.  Farmers will have the same issues as processors in getting healthy people to stay in operation.  The northern hemisphere wants to see how the southern hemisphere is dealing with it now.  That said, our federal government is throwing forgivable loans to small businesses, so that will be a nice financial boost, if it comes to pass.

     

    SLOVAKIA – Štefan Gradišek, Head of Purchasing Department, Dana

    Seeing longer delivery dues, higher transport costs. In some cases higher raw material prices and in rare cases also unavailability of material.

    We stopped production for short period of time, in order to reduce threat of virus expansion to the minimum among employees.  From a sales point of view, we had a lack of sales, since all restaurants etc. are closed, and this represents an important part of our business.

    There is some governmental support for producers /employees and looks positive.

    In my opinion, in 12 month things will be more or less on old tracks. Unless there is a resurgence of the virus. I do not really any positive things to say as a result so far.

     

    US – Carol Plisga, independent consultant to the food and beverage industry

    In my opinion, the juice industry is in the same predicament as all other industries and governments.  As much as we would like to look long term, the future changes daily so right now what matters is fighting front line challenges and embracing immediate needs.

    I’m not a historian but common sense tells me that a spike of any kind is not sustainable and eventually will moderate.  Looming out there for all of us both personal and professional is a recession caused by COVID-19.  How many businesses won’t survive?

    Forecasting is a tool that depends on previous history and future insight.  We have nothing in history to compare as a forecasting tool.  The future for retail and foodservice is unknown.  We can’t expect all countries will come back at the same speed with the same demands on the juice industry.

    We’re in a crucial agricultural period for Southern Hemisphere.  If unable to pick, process and ship – we will see shortages globally.  Does that automatically kill the spike we are seeing now or will the recession kill the spike?  I am looking forward to your report in FJF issue.  We can all learn from our colleagues and your span of clients is far greater than any one of us has, as a single individual or company.

     

    POLAND – Mateusz Świętanowski
    Concentrates, IQF & Puree Sales Manager / Kierownik Działu Koncentraty, IQF i Przeciery 

    We have seen a large drop in food service channel sales but at the same time increase in retail based sales channel. Unfortunately we cannot estimate if this trend will continue for the next months as we think that that increase is a result of the stock renewal of supermarket channels. Some challenges with finance and insurance companies as they are looking more closely and in more cautious manner in terms of providing finance cover for clients. Most of our team are working from home, utilising all possible platforms of contact with other team members and clients.

    Government prepared a lot of projects for businesses across the country, but the scale and results we will notice in near future. We must focus to keep the business running and cover the cost.

    As for 12 months’ time – too far to tell now. Let’s not plan too much. Just look at what is happening now and how irrelevant all planning may be. I do however think high vitamin content in juices as well as other minerals might turn out to be substantial factor for rise in consumption. Add to that long shelf life and protection of product from potential contamination as opposed to fresh fruits and vegetables.

    ISRAEL – Ido Frank, Director of Business Development, Kibbutz Gan Shmuel, Trisun

    So far the biggest change we see is increased difficulty in shipping goods (and also samples to some countries). A few countries have closed down so it is also becoming more difficult to get bookings for containers to move goods.

     

    POLAND – Andrii Humenchuk< Global Sales Specialist, Sambor

    What is the biggest change the current virus has made to our business right now – we switched to shorter payment terms and delivery spread (3-10 days net or 100% prepayment and delivery spread max till June 2020).
    We have major factors at the moment in Poland: a) shortage of labour as many seasonal workers left the country b) lack of precipitation/high temperature in May forecast. It may result in higher labour cost and lack of apples for processing.
    I think long term we may expect the share of pure juices will increase at the expense of energy/sport drinks.

     

    PAKISTAN – Various sources

    1.0 The Scope of the Crisis

    As has been widely recognised globally, the current crisis, in addition to its tragic human dimension, represents an economic shock, on a magnitude which has not been seen since the Second World War. In the case of the economy of Pakistan, which is between 30 & 35 in the world GDP ranking, both its linkage to the global economy, as well as its relative  isolation, are kept in view when assessing international trends.

    The major linkage is in the numbers of workers from this country in the Gulf, which can be estimated at over 5 million, followed by those in the UK/ USA/ Europe. The financial implication is the volume of remittances to this country, which actually constitute the biggest single source of foreign currency, and, on a micro level, which are mostly utilised for personal consumption by the recipient families.

    2.0 Implications for the Fruit Juice Sector

    Actually the sector may be considered as consisting of two sub-sectors:

    1. i) The production of industrial products such as concentrates and purees: these are currently used mainly for consumer juices for local sale, with some proportion for the export market. The availability of disposable income for packed fruit juices will directly impact the manufacturers of industrial products. However, since these manufacturers have been making high profits from local sales, with a decline in demand it is possible that they will make more an effort to export, so the reduction in sales to local juice producers may be partially offset by increased export sales, albeit at somewhat lower prices.

    Current exports are no more than 4-5,000 tonnes/year of mango/guava purees, and about 10,000 tonnes/year of mandarin concentrate, so it is conceivable that these levels can be increased by 40 to 50% to offset the decline in local sales, as forecast in ii) below.

    1. ii) The production of consumer juices: in response to the economic contraction expected in the coming future, decline in the volume of consumer juice sales is the likely scenario, since this is not an essential survival item of the grocery basket. The buoyancy in the policies of the multinationals, such as Pepsi/ Coca Cola/ Nestle, as well as that of the leading local brands, towards constantly expanding their fruit juice portfolios, is not realistically expected to be sustained in the immediate future.

    The current consumer juice market in Pakistan, with a range of products in various sizes (200 ml/ 250 ml/ 1 litre) and types (PET/ tetra + similar/ glass) is estimated at between 300 & 500 million litres/ year. Growth has been phenomenal in the last few years, estimated by authoritative sources at reaching 20% annually in some years, powered by increasing disposable incomes/ changes in tastes & lifestyles/ a growing young population and other factors. However, quite clearly, such growth is not expected to happen in the next few years, following the current economic shock.

     

    FINLAND – Elisa Piesala, Branch Manager, Finnish Food and Drink Industries´ Federation, Helsinki

    In Finland the food sector is considered as a sector critical to the functioning of society.

    Pre-primary education organized in schools and contact teaching for grades 1–3 will continue for the children of parents working in sectors critical to the functioning of society. Other schools and universities are closed. People are asked to stay at home and avoid close contact to others.

    Impact on salesAs elsewhere, the sales in the groceries have increased and the sales in the foodservice have reduced a lot.  Bars and restaurants have been closed since last Saturday (4.4.). Some examples of rough estimations of increases in the groceries: meat + 40 %, dairy products 20-30 %. The highest peak of groceries sales was right after the Finnish government announced of enforcing Emergency Powers Act (on the 16th of March). The retail sector reported that now the situation has evened out, but still people are buying more than in usual situation e.g. bread, meat, tissue paper, canned food, soap and detergents.

    Transportation, logistics, border checksThe Food and Drink Industries’ Federation has not yet been reported of major problems with border checks so far.

     

    NIGERIA – Anthea Omoregbee, CEO, Zest4Life, Lagos Nigeria 

    We are in a lockdown now so delivery is slow due to no movement, resulting in reduced sales.

    Not seeing support from government in our region as yet.

    For the future I can see more online sales and with the help of vitamin C, which helps with building immune systems, the sales of juices are and will continue to rise.  Hopefully we can play a part in helping to boost immune systems.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 13 Mar
    FCOJ – Enough juice for everyone to drink, but the prices will be a little higher. July update from Jack Scoville

    FCOJ – Enough juice for everyone to drink, but the prices will be a little higher. July update from Jack Scoville

    FCOJ held strong in the last few weeks as demand held strong despite the higher prices.  The domestic demand has really improved due to the Coronavirus and COVID-19.  People are remembering that orange juice in whatever form has important vitamins and minerals to support them if the effort to stay safe.  The demand from households has come while the food service demand has dropped but the household demand increase has been larger than the food service decrease.

    Domestic production is down a little bit this year at 67 million boxes.  The reduced production helps keep the supply manageable against the demand.  In fact, the FCOJ Movement and Pack report issued by the Florida Mutual Association notes that stocks levels are starting to become more stable against the previous year.  That implies that prices can at least hold at current levels.

    US imports of FCOJ remain relatively low this year.  US prices are low in the world market, so Brazil producers and even the Mexican producers would rather sell to Europe, where the prices are a lot higher.  The US can also export to Europe as long as the politics are good.  The Trump administration has made life more difficult for the exporters, though, as it has railed against all things European in an effort to promote the America First policies and in general animus to our friends.  The EU will primarily source its FCOJ from Brazil.

    The market has improved in the last half a year and should continue to gain a little bit.  Interest in FCOJ futures is returning to the marketplace, which is good for everyone.  The fundamentals of supply and demand favour somewhat higher prices as well.  There is still going to be juice for everyone to drink, but the prices will be a little higher.

     

    A little background

    FCOJ futures started in New York in the 1960’s but the contract terms were developed in the late 40’s by Florida academic and government officials.

    The contract calls for delivery in Delaware, New Jersey, Florida, and California.  Juicer from other origins can be delivered to the exchange as long as the juice is stored in the designated warehouses.  These origins include Brazil, Costa Rica, and Mexico as well as some other countries.

    FCOJ was the most important component of the industry when the contract started, but now the fresh juice market is bigger.   Even so, the price relationships work out well enough that the FCOJ contract is the benchmark price for all orange juice.  It has become a very important factor in the life of the Florida producer as about 90% of Florida oranges are juiced.

    By Caroline Calder Features News
  • 13 Mar
    Tough times for Aussie growers

    Tough times for Aussie growers

    Problems down under continue to put pressure on juice industry while leading businesses are urged to innovate to keep pace with changing consumer tastes.  One report says that poor prices could mean an end of fresh Australian orange juice in five years, writes FJF.

    It’s not just adverse weather that’s affecting Australia – frosts, bushfires, water, the citrus industry is suffering from an onslaught of issues that are making life tough.  The domestic citrus crop will be way down in volumes, farming is proving a tough livelihood for growers with rising costs, and to top it consumer demands are changing dramatically which makes juice staples less attractive to younger consumers as they look at alternatives.

    Weather issues

    Citrus Australia, the industry body representing the nation’s commercial citrus growers, says major retailers must lift prices to juice growers, who are facing a decline in production due to seasonal conditions. CEO Nathan Hancock says prices paid for fresh juice by supermarkets to juice companies does not reflect the seasonal environmental impacts of frost and drought on the 2019/20 Valencia crop.

    “This limits the amount of money that juice processors can pay growers, which will exacerbate the long-term decline in juice variety production,” Mr Hancock said.

    “The juice growing industry is under immense pressure and Australian consumers may not have access to fresh Australian orange juice in as little as five years.

    “The high cost of water and low returns for juicing oranges mean less incentive to irrigate and maintain the crop.” Mr Hancock said growing juice fruit is unprofitable based on current rates, which barely cover the cost to grow the fruit.

    Operating environment

    Operators in the Fruit Juice Drink Manufacturing industry have faced a difficult trading environment over the past five years, according to analysts IbisWorld.

    Strong competition, both internally from private labels and externally from other beverages, has negatively affected industry revenue. In addition, slow growth in household disposable income has caused consumer preferences to shift to cheaper alternatives over the period.

    As a result, industry revenue is expected to fall at an annualised 0.4% over the five years through 2018-19, to be worth AUD822.8 million. However, revenue is anticipated to increase by 0.8% in the current year, due to rising health consciousness.

    If the domestic market fails it is likely we will see more imported frozen products, or non-refrigerated juice products, rather than fresh imports it has been suggested.

    Look to innovation

    The Australian Beverages Council is positive about the industry and sees premium products as key to success going forward.  Since 2008, chilled juice has been increasing in market value at the expense of ambient juice, growing in value by more than AUD140 million. While the overall value of the juice market has been declining since 2011, forecasts indicate value losses will slow and value should peak this year due to consumers opting for more premium chilled products. Looking further ahead, the expectation is that growth will remain modest across the category with the greatest promise of better margins and sales in premium lines. Clearly this will be contingent upon the local supply of fruit regaining some certainty over the forward horizon, comments the Council.

    “It could be noted that Australians on average only consume about half recommended fruit in their diet, so perhaps innovation really is key”

    Some of the premium lines introduced by Members of Juice Australia include combinations of fruit and vegetable juices, greater density juices which have been pressed or crushed, and unique juice blends, many of which include coconut water. Some producers have also branched out into other categories, such as non-dairy yoghurt and sparkling juices or flavoured waters.

    Just recently, market research on Australian fruit juice suggested millennials and families with young children are key targets for premium juice products. The report found millennials perceive juice consumption as an indulgence, while families with young children generally value high quality ingredients as a key factor in the decision-making process.

    It could be noted that Australians on average only consume about half recommended fruit in their diet, so perhaps innovation really is key here as the country is far down the list when it comes to consumption of juice.  Their favourite fruit is apparently apple, followed by banana, favourite juice consumed orange, followed by juice blends such as tropical mixes.

    Positive vibes despite coronavirus concerns

    The Citrus Australia Market Outlook Forum wrapped up in Melbourne recently with the industry looking forward to the season ahead. Citrus Australia Chair Ben Cant says “There is a huge amount of opportunities in export, and there are a lot of trees that are going in,” he said. “There is a lot of confidence in the industry that our record trade figures are going to continue going forward. Another key message is getting to know your consumer/customer and understand the supply chain, through technology, blockchain and genetic testing. There is also a lot of technology and it’s amazing the profound impact technology is having on the industry.”

    Another issue on the radar was the Coronavirus, with China a key trading partner with Australia, but Mr Cant says it is a situation the industry will monitor as the season gets closer. “It can certainly go either way,” he said. “That may be due to the reduced economic activity, and consumer behaviour focusing on essential items, and purchasing items like citrus will be reduced. But, that said, the markets are empty of fruit and 1.3 billion Chinese people, a significant portion, who are going to be looking for a Vitamin C hit, to increase immune levels. So, we are confident that there might be a spike in sales this year. Anecdotally, we saw that with trade data, post-SARS in citrus sales. So, we are hoping the Chinese will be back on board and better than ever.”

    Australian Beverages Council, IbisWorld, Citrus Australia.

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 16 Jan
    Latest: Frozen Concentrated OJ Futures

    Latest: Frozen Concentrated OJ Futures

    Jack Scoville March update 2020

    FCOJ prices yo-yo as coronavirus adds to woes

    FCOJ futures have had a relatively wild ride in the last few weeks.  Prices went above 102.00 May for the first time since the beginning of the year in February and acted ready to move higher and perhaps significantly higher.  Then, prices stalled and futures moved back down into the trading range between 98.00 and 102.00 for a few weeks before dropping below support and testing down to 92.15 May.  Then the Coronavirus hit and futures went back up to the range.  Now prices are fading lower again.

    It has been quite a ride and it is somewhat disappointing that the onslaught of the Coronavirus has not really produced more demand for FCOJ in the American market.  After all, Americans should want to try to prevent getting the virus and one way to do that is by drinking a glass of Orange Juice each morning.  But the demand bump has been minimal and this highlights the problems with the market right now.

    There are plenty of Oranges in Florida right now for making FCOJ.  The crop is still being harvested but all reports indicate that a bumper crop has arrived.  There are reports of some production problems this year in Mexico from earlier dryness, but Brazil’s crops are looking good and will offer plenty of competition for sales abroad and here at home.

    On the demand side, the Coronavirus makes transportation that much more difficult.  The workers on the ships could carry the disease and people with the disease or even virus free are not going out too much.  So, the demand might crop due to the virus instead of increase.

    FCJ futures can hold in the 90’s for the foreseeable future either way.  Prices might be cheap enough although historically prices have been even lower that the current levels.  But there is no real reason for any kind of a major up move in futures to develop anytime soon.  The best the market can hope for is a choppy and sideways trade rather than a V bottom and a big move from here.  We will need to absorb the harvest before any kind of a major rally can even be contemplated.  The amount of FCOJ made from the current crop plus imports will go a long way to deciding the longer term upside price potential.  For now one would think that the price rally potential is rather slim.

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 16 Jan
    Putting the ‘great’ into pineapple juice

    Putting the ‘great’ into pineapple juice

    Josep Lay, Managing Director of PT Great Giant Pineapple provides some insight for fruitjuicefocus.com

    Principal producers

    The big four pineapple producers in the world are Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, and Costa Rica (85-90%).  Thailand’s production in 2019 is expected to drop to 1.1 million tonnes.  The Philippines production remains stable over recent years, while Costa Rica is now producing more in NFC.  Indonesia’s production keeps growing steadily but will not be able to substitute the shortfall of other countries.

     

    A passion for pineapple – PT Great Giant Pineapple

    PT Great Giant Pineapple (GGP) operate on a 34,000 ha plantation area in Lampung, Indonesia, with some 25,000 employees.  This is the world’s single largest integrated green production facility producing more than 700,000 tonnes of pineapple annually. Rainforest Alliance Certified – GGP commits to control every step of the process from plantation to processing and shipping.

    Fully traceable

    Their system and process allows the company to trace from finished product to a specific planting area. Since our establishment in 1979, PT Great Giant Pineapple’s (GGP) has become the largest private label manufacturer of canned pineapples in the world and a prominent source of premium pineapples. Being farmers at heart we pride ourselves on implementing sustainable agricultural practices, at the core of our business operations. With one in every 4 pineapple originating from GGP, our plantation covers 90,000 acres, and our unrivalled expertise in fruit cultivation is supported by a seamless supply chain alongside our fully integrated facilities.

    Sustainable

    We began implementing our sustainability initiatives form 1980 by actively maintaining our natural lagoons to harvest rainwater thereby reducing our consumption of ground water.  Since then we have invested in various initiatives relating to the environment as well as the social and economic welfare of local communities.

    Premium products

    GGP are the largest private label manufacturer of canned pineapples in the

    world serving leading retailers and brands from over 60 countries with a market share of 25%. Premium products include pineapple in pouches, fillings and spreads, canned pineapples and tropical fruit salad, pineapple juice concentrate (PJC), clarified pineapple concentrate (CPC), deionised clarified pineapple concentrate (DCPC), not from concentrate (NFC).

    PRODUCTION OVERVIEW

    Costa Rica pineapple landscape. After reaching a USD200 million record in exports in 2016, in 2018 the value of pineapple juice sold by Costa Rican companies abroad fell to USD104 million. The 2016 advantages such as climate and production problems in South East Asian countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines contributed to the spike in trade.

    At the beginning of 2019 there were 44,500 hectares dedicated to fruit cultivation in Costa Rica, however because of high production costs and a drop in International prices predicted by 2021, the cultivated area could fall to 38,000 ha. Growing competition from Colombia, Panama and Ecuador producers who have managed to gain market share in the US and Europe is noted as the reason.

    Thailand pineapple harvest. Experiencing the lowest tonnage in the last 20 years Thailand has significant production hurdles to overcome.  Due to the very low price of fresh pineapple in previous seasons, farmers did not take care of plantations and this has affected total production volumes, size of fruit and quality. Low yields are predicted to continue in the short term, and also noted is that pineapple production is seen as more labour intensive than other crops such as mango, jackfruit, or rubber. There has been a significant consolidation of canaries in the region from 2011-2019.

    Philippines and Indonesia. Philippines has been facing dry spells although predictions are for this to normalise, production is slightly less compared to 2018. The dry season in Indonesia has turned into the ‘long drought’ from May-Nov 2019, not enough rainfalls during those period. Production of Indonesia in 2019 is expected to be higher than 2018. Due to long drought in 2019, Indonesia is expecting a lower production volume in Q1/2020 around by 20%.

    Production opportunities for GGP.  Thailand is facing a crisis in pineapple industry, not enough workers and no interest for Thailand’s young generation to be a farmer. Declining trends in Thailand’s pineapple tonnage provides opportunities for growth of production volume at GGP. GGP is preparing to minimize the impact of El Nino or drought by investing more water reservoirs. GGP’s water reservoir enable to sustain for 90 days without rain. GGP is a company concerned with ‘Going Green and Sustainability’, creating a food estate that has no waste, every single item is utilized, from the pineapple skin, manure from the cattle operation as well as other solid waste.

    Data from CBI – Market and quality 

    The European Union is the largest market of pineapple juice with more over 50% share of the total world imports according to the CBI. The Netherlands is the largest European importer of pineapple juice, followed by France and Germany. The major developing country suppliers are Thailand and Costa Rica.

    Pineapple juice may contain finely divided insoluble solids, but it does not contain pieces of shell, seeds, or other coarse or hard substances or excess pulp. The juice intended for export is usually concentrated and later reconstituted with water due to practical reasons of lowering transportation costs which would otherwise include transport cost for water and packaging.

    Quality

    The basic quality requirements for pineapple juice are defined by the following parameters:

    • Colour: characteristic of the variety, most commonly golden yellow to amber.
    • Flavour and odour: distinct pineapple flavour and odour, free from foreign flavours and odours.
    • Brix level: quality of concentrated pineapple juices is mainly defined by the Brix level (sugar content of an aqueous solution) and Brix level directly influences the price of the product. According to trade classification the highest category for pineapple juices is defined with Brix level exceeding 67. However, in European industry practice the most common concentrated pineapple juices used by bottlers are around 60-61 Brix and 65 Brix. According to the European Union directive minimum Brix level for reconstituted pineapple juice is 12.8.

    Additional quality requirements

    • Pulp content: pulp content may vary and commonly it is between 6 and 18% in the concentrated pineapple juice. Importers may require more pulp content as visible pulp in juices is becoming more popular among European consumers.
    • Acid level: citric acid level is beside Brix the most common parameter that influence the quality and price of the product. Usually acid level for concentrated pineapple juice is 2-4% of citric acid.

    Which European markets offer opportunities for exporters of pineapple juice

    Imports

    Over the last five years, imports of pineapple juice in the European Union have increased annually by an average 9% in value, but decreased by 1% in quantity, reaching EUR521 million and 376,000 tonnes in 2016.

    Decreasing import quantity compared to value indicates an increase in import prices in 2016. The average import price for concentrated pineapple juice in Europe increased from EUR1.7/kg (CIF) to EUR2.4/kg.

    European Union imports of pineapple juice are concentrated, and three top importers (the Netherlands, France and Spain) together account for more than 60% of total European imports.

    The largest imports from countries outside the European Union are from Thailand and Costa Rica. Together they hold almost 80% of the total market. Although the Philippines is one of the largest exporter of pineapple juice in the world, they are traditionally more focused on the US market.

    Imports from Brazil showed very significant average annual growth of 103% over the last five years. Other growing exporters are China (56% annual growth) South Africa (37%) and Kenya (15%).

    The leading external destinations for pineapple juice processed in Europe are Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt. There was a very high export increase to Iran, from EUR129 thousand in 2012 to EUR3.4 million in 2016. This export to Iran is mainly recorded from Germany.

    Sources:  CBI, PT Great Giant Pineapple, ITC Trade Map, Central American Data, Thai Statistics Office,

     

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 17 Nov
    Juice Reinvented

    Juice Reinvented

    Juice blending –

     In today’s world, beverage processing must be more efficient and sustainable than ever before. By reinventing the standard JNSD processing line, Maria Norlin, Sub-category Manager for JNSD & Beverage and her team at Tetra Pak divided the process into two separate streams, one for concentrate and one for water.

    This would help producers to minimise environmental impact while saving in both energy and water consumption – the story of this unmatched innovation unfolds below.

    The JNSD portion of the beverage industry is stable and conservative in many ways, with industrial practices built up over decades to ensure product safety and production efficiency. However, a range of consumers trends – from increased concerns for health and calls for more natural alternatives to growing environmental awareness -– are putting pressure on JNSD manufacturing to rethink traditional practices.

    We at Tetra Pak took the challenge and explored how we could make juice production more sustainable while maintaining product safety and shelf-life. We also wanted lower processing costs, to achieve these goals, we needed to find innovative solutions which save energy and water. And we did this by combining existing technologies-– filtration and UV treatment. Our experimentation and innovative equipment and processing parameters yielded extremely satisfying results.

    This was the start of a long-term project to develop a low-energy JNSD line. Traditionally, we pasteurize the full volume (juice concentrate + water), where the most energy-intensive process step is heat treatment. In the new line, we pasteurize the smallest possible volume, the concentrate. The rest which is water is treated separately with more cost-effective aseptic technologies such as filtration and UV light. This new technology can greatly cut down heat treatments -– reducing energy consumption by about 67%. It also reduces water used in cleaning in place (CIP) and sterilization in place (SIP) by about 50%.

    THE CHALLENGE: RETHINKING THE JNSD LINE WITH EXISTING TECHNOLOGIES

    In JNSD solutions commonly used today (Figure 1), all ingredients are blended with water before going to the pasteurizer for heat treatment to deactivate harmful microorganisms. Even with modern pasteurizers though, which use regenerative heat to drive efficiencies, this is an energy-intensive approach which faces added challenges at scale. For instance, each product change in a large system volume of 2,000 litres is likely to create significant product loss and require additional, resource-intensive cleaning steps.

    Informed by these challenges and past attempts to address them –- such as adding water to the concentrate as steam and then diluting it with cold water -– we decided to pursue a completely new approach. By leveraging existing technologies and the natural properties of water, we reinvented the traditional, resource intensive JNSD line and split it into two streams: one for water and one for concentrate and pre-mixes.

    Unlike JNSD products, water is a clear liquid, which makes it very suitable for UV light treatment to ensure the required reduction of pathogens. Water is also free from cloud, particles, and the pulp typically found in juices and juice-based beverages, which allows for filtration that targets spoilage organisms.

    In our new line concept, these lower-energy processes (i.e. UV light and filtration) are used to purify the water first, before it is blended with the concentrate –- which is still treated by heat, but at a greatly reduced volume (about 30%) given the absence of water. 

    THE OUTCOME: LESS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT, MORE OPERATIONAL SAVINGS

    To verify that our new line concept met the formal test requirements we had established, we built a test plant and ran an operational test with nearly 8,000 juice packages.

    As the summary table demonstrates, pilot testing was highly successful. The required log reductions for food safety and food spoilage were achieved –- and surpassed -– with a combination of filters and UV treatment. Our targets for reduced operational cost were also met, with yearly savings estimated at 92 thousand Euros when assuming a production time of 20 hours a day, 5 days a week.

    In terms of investment costs, based on the filtration and UV equipment we selected, our new JNSD line was only 5% more expensive than the current solution. Accounting for operational savings, this investment cost would be paid back before our ROI target of a maximum of 6 months.
    Importantly, beyond surpassing our food safety targets and showcasing operational costs savings of 67% relative to current solutions, pilot testing underscored significant sustainability gains – which were also a key focus area of ours.

    At Tetra Pak, we are committed to helping drive more environment-friendly processing solutions – which are also in high demand from our customers given heightened consumer awareness around sustainability and increasing demands for businesses to take climate actions.

    To that end, in developing this new line, we set targets of reducing water consumption by 25% and energy consumption by 40%, both of which we surpassed. In pilot testing, energy consumption was estimated to reduce by 67% and water consumption by 50% from 96,000 l/week to 48,000 l/week. By processing ingredients in two separate streams, whereby only 30% of the volume is heat treated through pasteurization, producers are better equipped to meet one of modern manufacturing’s most common challenges: producing more, with less.

     

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 17 Nov
    You got to love statistics

    You got to love statistics

    Florida Report

    Fruitjuicefocus caught up with the team behind the October Citrus Report to find out more about the origins of FASS, the Florida Ag Statistics Service, and what it takes to create such a significant annual report.

    The Florida Agricultural Statistics Service (FASS), also referred to as the Florida Field Office of the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is located in Maitland, Florida. It is compiled of 7 office and 11 field full-time state employees. It is the main agricultural data gathering agency in Florida with the purpose of collecting, compiling and publishing current citrus statistics.

    Beginnings

    The statistical series on Florida citrus began in the late nineteenth century when recorded shipments of citrus and County Commissioner estimates of tree population and production were periodically summarized. Official inspection records later improved the series for both production and tree population.  Joint efforts of state and industry groups provided a tree census in 1934 and again in 1956.

    The 1956 census was a significant contribution to the series identifying individual groves by mapping and recording variety, age, location, and tree-numbers.  The 1956 census was updated by annual sample surveys from 1960 until 1965 when a complete and detailed census was efficiently obtained with the aid of aerial photography.

    Early forecasting

    Early attempts at forecasting citrus production consisted of various ways of gathering and summarizing subjective evaluations of crop condition.  Objective counts and measurements were used in citrus production as early as 1939.  Most of these early systems became unsatisfactory for present day needs but have paved the way to the relatively sophisticated methodology now being used in Florida.

    “The first Citrus forecast using objective measurements, which is the methodology we use today, was in 1939.  Prior to that, and as early as 1910’s to 1920’s, forecast were based on visual observation and grower reports,” reports USDA analyst Bill Curtis.

     

    “The format used in 1939 was similar to what is still used today, broken out by variety and type.  At the end of each season, a summarization is done to quantify the most recent years of Florida Citrus. It is put in a book to show comparisons between the most recent season to previous seasons. The book we put out annually covers the most recent 20 seasons, and includes both ‘Citrus Summary’ data and ‘Tree Inventory’ data.”

    Present methodology

    Present citrus forecasting considers production to be uniquely defined as a function of four variables: 1) number of bearing trees in the population 2) average number of fruit per tree 3) size of fruit at maturity, and 4) natural loss of fruit between original count and maturity (drop).

    Today the data are collected by a broad program of sample surveys throughout the year. Survey data are collected primarily through objective and non-objective field work, but also by mail surveys or through contacting growers and farmers in person. This service is provided by a cooperative agreement between the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

     

    The Florida Field Office, like all NASS field offices, submits recommendations to the national headquarters in Washington, DC. Commodity experts review all State recommendations and issue State and National estimates to the public on scheduled release dates throughout the year. Cooperative agreements with State governments permit additional estimates to be made at the State and/or County level for some commodities.

    Who are the people behind the report?

    “For state employees, each of the full time field employees are exclusively trained to perform their duties. The training is primarily on the job as what we do is uniquely different from what most people have experienced“, says Mr Curtis.

    “In the field, all full time employees are Research Assistants with college degrees, or have worked with FASS as seasonal employees at least four years before being hired full time. All of them must be able to accurately perform field surveys. We stress accuracy in counting fruit, estimating trees, and objectively measuring fruit size and drop.

    “Understanding basic mathematical concepts is a must. Also, they work independently after being trained, so we try to hire people who are self- starters and can work on their own. They must be willing to get dirty occasionally. One of the surveys is counting fruit on a citrus tree. For that they would have to be able to count fruit by climbing a tree or a ladder, and the trees get grimy at times. “

    In the office, mathematical skills and logical skills are a must, says Mr Curtis.  “There are three state Research Assistants with the same requirements who compile the report. The staff assistant people personnel we hire must be able to logically prepare the information for the report.”

    A Federal employee Mathematical Statistician is in charge of assuring the information is statistically sound. This staff member runs the statistical information to combine everything into a format that can be put into a report. With several years of data and regressions, edits are run and checked to assure accuracy.

    “This is all done under the oversight of the Federal ‘State Statistician’, Mark Hudson, says Curtis, “he reviews everything before it presented to the (ASB) Agricultural Statistics Board.

    What are the main aims of the report?

    The primary goal of FASS is to provide farmers, ranchers and other producers of agricultural commodities with unbiased and reliable statistical reports to assist them in making production and marketing decisions. Other important users of agricultural statistics are farm organizations, agribusiness and transportation firms, state and national policy makers, and foreign buyers of agricultural products.

    Logistics – how is this done? The current citrus acreage, as reported by FASS in the August 28, 2019 Commercial Citrus inventory Report for Florida Citrus is 430,601 acres.

    Field staff are located throughout the Florida Citrus region. They perform the survey work on the three major surveys (Limb Count, Size and Drop, and Tree inventory).

    “Before 1939, the methodology was different”, says Curtis. “Without going into detail, what has changed since then is how we perform some of our objective surveys. The Limb Count or fruit per tree survey was changed in 1956 to a Cross-sectional Area survey. The development of callipers used to measure the size of the fruit was in the 1950’s. Tree inventory using aerial photography goes back as far as 1966. Probably one of the most recent changes is using Geographical Information System (GIS) technology for photo interpretation and grove change detection in 2005. This was a huge cost savings as we no longer had to hire someone to fly over the states citrus.

    “From a personal standpoint, I remember as late as the 1990’s carrying a pager in the field, and when I received a page having to find a phone booth to call back to the office. Obviously cell phones, and computer technology has speed up the process of getting information from the field to the office and vice versa in a more expedient and efficient manner.

    “When I came to the office in the early 2000’s, many of the charts we used were done with pen and paper,“ comments Curtis. “Now regressions and historical data in chart format is at our fingertips and can be looked at pretty immediately with the use of computers programs. “

     

    Getting the report out on time.

    “It’s not an option being late”, says Mr Curtis. “It is a federal regulation set by USDA policy. The forecast data is conditions as of the first of the month. So, it all comes down to scheduling. Making sure the field staff has completed the work as close to the end of the month as possible, while still giving the office staff time to compile the information for the forecast. The two field supervisors monitor the work of each of their employees to make sure this happens. The office supervisor works with staff to make sure the citrus board is ready to be conducted on time.”

    How important is the report to Florida growers?

    “Growers, processers, researchers and many other industries use this information. Not just the production forecast, but the value aspect and the tree and acreage data. I can’t speak for them all” comments Curtis, “but there seems to be an interest in what we do to help them make decisions on planting, selling and buying.”

    What next for the report? 

    “Trying to get out the most accurate report. With the changing industry, the greening, smaller crops in many instances, we strive to get the numbers right. We are open to new technology when it becomes affordable and efficient. There are new methods of counting trees and using drones that to this point have not been used. There may be ways to better do what we do, but until we find them to be statistically sound, we will stick with what we know works.” Concludes Mr Curtis.

    Challenges

    “Lots of challenges exist. There are of course diseases, and pests. These things change the face the industry, and how affordable it is for the grower. Then there are the natural disasters, such as freezes or hurricanes. The many freezes in the 1980’s moved the crop south. The hurricanes in the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 reduced the crop size, and now over the past decade, citrus greening. This affects us, because when the crop fluctuates, it is harder to forecast. Also, we have to play catch up on tree numbers and acres if we are not careful. There will always be challenges. “

    By Caroline Calder Features
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