• 12 Jan
    US – Florida  citrus production down, but Coronavirus Pandemic drives demand –

    US – Florida  citrus production down, but Coronavirus Pandemic drives demand –

    The increased demand is attributed to people working from home, and the thought a compound found in oranges can fend off coronavirus. Production of Florida oranges is now forecast to be about 17% below last season’s output, while the industry has seen a surge in demand linked to people staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic and rediscovering breakfast.

    An updated forecast from the US Department of Agriculture (mid December) reduced by about 2% the current growing season forecast for production of oranges and grapefruit, which were already projected to be below the yield from the 2019-2020 growing season. The Florida Department of Citrus considered the revised forecast a sign the industry is ‘relatively stable.’

    After the first forecast for the season was released back in October, the Florida Citrus Commission voted to increase a tax that growers pay on each box of oranges to help cover a USD9.8 million global marketing campaign. That campaign is part of an effort to keep up a surge in juice sales spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. The change increased the box tax growers pay from 7 cents for each 90-pound box of oranges they fill to 12 cents per box. Grapefruit and specialty fruits remained at 7 cents a box.

    The work-from-home trend, along with a belief from many people that a compound found in oranges called hesperidin provides a layer of protection from respiratory illnesses, has driven orange juice to supermarket sales unseen in years. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried commented: “With citrus as a powerful source of Vitamin C, antioxidants, and fibre, Florida’s citrus growers are working hard to fulfil market demand for oranges, grapefruit, and specialty citrus. With these projections in line with an expected smaller 2020-21 citrus crop, we at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stand ready to support our proud citrus growers with research, innovation, and partnership.”

    About 95% of Florida’s orange crop, still the largest in the nation, is processed into juice. If projections hold, orange production would decline for a second straight year in an industry that has struggled against residential and commercial development, foreign imports and citrus greening, an incurable bacterial disease. The updated federal forecast has growers in Florida producing enough oranges to fill 56 million 90-pound boxes, down from 57 million boxes projected in the October forecast, which opened the growing season. The season continues into July. Just over two decades ago, Florida growers grew enough oranges for more than 200 million boxes a season. The industry uses 90-pound boxes as a standard measurement. Wusfnews

    By Caroline Calder News
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