In recent years, the iconic Florida citrus industry has been faced with challenges from devastating citrus greening to major hurricanes pummeling the state’s fruit groves. But industry members are doubling down on their commitment to ensure citrus and juice products remain synonymous with the Sunshine State. Peace River Citrus Products and Scott Family Companies and its partners announced they will invest more than $25 million to plant a quarter million new grapefruit trees on 1,500 acres in St. Lucie and Indian River counties.
This is the first major grapefruit planting in the state since citrus greening decimated Florida’s existing grapefruit groves.
“Through this innovative grove planting commitment, Peace River and The Scott Family Companies aim to boost Florida’s grapefruit crop by 15 percent once the new groves reach maturity,” said Andy Taylor, senior vice president and chief financial officer for Peace River Citrus Products.
“Tackling the invasive citrus greening disease requires the citrus industry to work together,” added Dan Richey, president and CEO of Riverfront Packing Company. “Scott Family Companies is proud to partner with Peace River to not only plant 1,500 acres of grapefruit trees in Florida but to also ensure these trees are protected from devastating diseases.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis joined Peace River, Scott Family Companies and its partners to raise a glass of grapefruit juice to celebrate the rebuilding of Florida grapefruit groves.
“Florida is proud to have the best citrus produce in the world,” said Gov. DeSantis. “Since January, we’ve been dedicating resources and improving policies to make sure Florida’s citrus industry gets back on its feet, and today, we’ve surpassed the 50 percent milestone for this important funding. For citrus growers still suffering from Hurricane Irma, know this – we are providing recovery funding as quickly as possible, and we will not waiver in our support.”
Through its long-standing partnership with Peace River, The Coca-Cola Company is supporting this effort with a multi-year agreement to purchase processed grapefruit juice for its global juice brands.
“As a total beverage company and proud manufacturer of juice products in the state of Florida, Coca-Cola has been and remains committed to using Florida citrus in our growing portfolio of products,” said Mark Westfall, chief procurement officer for The Coca-Cola Company. “We have a longstanding commitment to the Florida citrus industry with ongoing partnerships to address citrus greening and a $2 billion commitment announced in 2013 to support the planting of 25,000 new acres of orange groves in Florida. We’re pleased to build on this with today’s announcement that we will secure an increased supply of Florida grapefruit juice for our products like Simply Grapefruit, which is bottled in Auburndale.”
Japan-based flavor and fragrance giant Takasago International Corporation is strengthening its 40-year relationship with the Florida citrus industry by investing $1.5 million in the new tree plantings. Takasago is underwriting the cost of every new tree planted through this partnership to ensure a sustainable grapefruit industry in Florida. Additionally, Takasago has entered into a multi-year agreement for the supply of grapefruit peel oil, which is a key ingredient in flavor and fragrance manufacturing.
“Grapefruit is an important piece of Takasago’s DNA, and we are pleased with our partners’ resilience and commitment to the future of the Florida citrus industry,” stated Pablo Britti Macagno, Takasago strategic citrus director. “This initiative is part of Takasago’s ‘TaSuKI’ strategic corporate responsible sourcing program that ensures direct sourcing of ingredients and having a manufacturing presence in the countries of origin.”
Source: The Coca-Cola Company