Apopka citrus grower Chip Henry of McGuire Groves says orange juice (OJ) imports cost him money this year and may have led to other growers being stuck with unharvested fruit.
“As the season progressed, I began to realize that the pricing structure was subject to being weakened considerably by imports of orange juice from primarily Mexico,” Henry says.
According to Henry, he and some other growers had to wait for imported OJ to be processed and stored before they could get their fruit harvested. That wait “resulted in a great loss of my fruit from being overripe prior to the actual harvest taking place,” Henry says. “And also the market price collapsed. I lost probably $3 or more a box on the tree because the price eroded due to the weakening demand and the stockpiling of the juice building up from the imported products.”
He says he hopes growers are taking this situation seriously. “The end of this season was a disaster, a lot of red ink, a lot of heartache and a lot of concern for the future,” Henry says. “I hope this is the worst it gets, but I fear that this trend may continue for an indefinite period of time.”
Henry heard reports of growers, including some on Florida’s east coast, who had several trailer loads of fruit uncommitted for harvest at the end of the season. He says he fears “they may not have a harvest.”
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