U.S. Citrus Supply and Prices

Tacy CalliesCrop Forecast, Economics


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) released a Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook report on March 31. The report shows that the forecast for the U.S. citrus crop is down 4 percent from last season and how this is affecting imports, exports and pricing.

U.S. all-orange production is expected to decrease by 1.6 percent, largely due to lighter navel and Valencia crops in California. Relatively stable production levels of oranges in Florida may suggest that growers are succeeding at slowing continued losses caused by citrus greening through improved production practices.

“Declines in overall production can mostly be attributed to smaller lemon, tangerine, and mandarin crops in California,” states the report, written by Jaclyn Kramer, Skyler Simnitt and Linda Calvin. “Orange production in California has remained stable since last season. Citrus production in Florida has also remained stable with a 1 percent decline in orange production, and significant increases in grapefruit, tangerine, mandarin, and tangelo production over last year. Overall decreases in production of lemons, tangerines, mandarins, and tangelos are expected to result in increased imports, and higher prices compared with last year.”

According to the report, as of mid-March, U.S. citrus exports were down except for orange juice and tangerines. “Reduced exports have increased the domestic supply of citrus, putting downward pressure on prices. The January 2020 price of all-grapefruit is down 36 percent from the year before, and all-oranges and oranges for the fresh market are down by 6.9 and 9.4 percent, respectively. All-lemon prices are down 28.5 percent, and fresh lemons prices are down by 8.6 percent,” the report says.

However, the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported in January that the average processing Florida orange price was $8.40 per box, 10 cents higher than the same time last year. “Prices are up despite relatively high beginning stocks of frozen concentrated orange juice this season,” states the report.

ERS forecasts orange juice production in 2019–20 to be down from last year, falling from 445 million single-strength equivalent gallons to 326 million gallons. The report notes: “Year-over-year decreases in import volume have already been reported for the first 3 months of the current marketing year, down 32 percent from the same period last season. Season-to-date shipments are down by 12 percent from Brazil. Monthly exports of U.S. orange juice are up 5 percent in the first four months of the season relative to 2018–19.”

See the full USDA report here.

About the Author

Tacy Callies

Editor of Citrus Industry magazine