Citrus Outlook is Stable

While this year didn’t break any records, it was a decent harvest for Florida citrus growers.

At the recent Citrus Research and Development Foundation’s Virtual Educational Session, economist Dr. Marisa Zansler presented her forecast for Florida’s citrus industry. She is the Director of Economic and Research Department at the Florida Department of Citrus.

Zansler says according to the USDA, Florida produced 67.65 million boxes of oranges as of the end of July. That is down 5.7 percent from last year. Grapefruit production is estimated at 4.85 million boxes,  which is a 7.5 percent increase over last year. The decline in the orange crop has been associated with fruit drop.

“Florida orange juice availability is a function of beginning inventories, which were very high at the beginning of the ’19-’20 season,” says Zansler. The amount of juice produced overall is also affected by how much juice can be squeezed from the particular cultivars being harvested that season. There is also some impact from imported oranges and imports left over from the previous season.

The USDA is estimating that approximately 2.9 million certified oranges will be used for making fresh juice. That is a bit more than four percent of the total crop. About 20 percent of the crop will be used to make reconstituted, shelf-stable, and frozen juice, and about 50 million boxes will be used to make not-from-concentrate single-use orange juice. The remainder of the crop will be utilized in non-certified and other juice uses. About 96 percent of the oranges that Florida has produced will be used by the juice sector.

The orange juice market has long supported Florida’s production of oranges well, declining as our yields have declined over the last 15 years. “The current market would not support a 242 million box crop,” Zansler asserts. “However, the market does support closer to a 100 million box crop, with about 64 million boxes associated with Florida production.” These estimates were pre-pandemic, and it remains to be seen what the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic will be on commerce and agriculture.

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