Greg Nelson, president of Egan Fruit Packing in Fort Pierce, Florida, summarizes the status of the fresh citrus industry and discusses opportunities for the future.
“We’ve seen a slight decline in fresh orange consumption over the past 20 years, but a more significant, dramatic decline in fresh grapefruit consumption,” Nelson says. “But a lot of that is driven by lack of supply” because greening disease, or HLB, has been especially hard on grapefruit production.
Nelson notes the consumption of lemons, limes and mandarins are all on the rise. He says several new mandarin varieties, including Bingo, offer opportunity for the fresh fruit industry. Nelson believes the industry needs to put more marketing emphasis on citrus health benefits, especially antioxidants.
“I would encourage growers to be open to fresh varieties because there hopefully will be increases in new plantings as we reach more progress in battling greening,” Nelson says. “With these replantings they should keep in mind that there’s an opportunity to put a comfortable percentage … into these new fresh varieties which do hold promise for the future of the industry.”
Nelson addressed these topics at the International Citrus Business Conference in March.
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