Even with a projected downturn in production, “fresh citrus movement is projected to increase as a result of new plantings and other favorable conditions,” a Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) official reported recently. Florida Citrus Packers, the trade association for fresh fruit packers and shippers, agreed.
Marisa Zansler, FDOC director of economic and market research, noted that the production forecast for Florida citrus was slightly reduced in April. But, she added, “During the 2019-20 season, Florida’s certified fresh grapefruit utilization … will most likely reach close to 4.4 million cartons, a 22 percent increase over the previous season.” Much of the grapefruit crop is exported to other countries.
“At the same time, certified fresh orange and tangerine shipments are also projected to increase by 13 percent and nearly 10 percent, respectively,” Zansler stated. “Serving primarily the domestic market, Florida will likely supply more than 1 million cartons of specialty and more than 5 million cartons of fresh oranges this season. Total revenue (is) expected to exceed $93 million, a 10 percent increase over last season.”
“Meanwhile, consumer demand for fresh citrus has increased by as much as 60 percent for some varieties during the month of March,” Zansler reported. She stated that “consumers increased trips to traditional grocery stores to stock up on essential items and sought out healthy snacks to support the immune system.”
Florida Citrus Packers Executive Vice President Peter Chaires agreed with and expanded on Zansler’s report. “Excellent Florida grapefruit eating quality surely helped elevate movement this season,” Chaires said. “The fruit has been truly exceptional. Grapefruit movement through April 26 was over the 4 million carton level. We saw a bump in fresh movement early in the COVID-19 crisis, then a lull as consumers had seemingly stockpiled, and now a very healthy and steady movement of fresh oranges. We expect the orange trend to carry through May, easily surpassing 5 million cartons. This was a good season for specialty fruit. Some new specialty plantings are starting to come online, and fruit quality continues to improve as the earlier plantings get a few years on them.”
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