Marisa Zansler, Florida Department of Citrus director of economic and market research, gave an update on fresh citrus prospects for the 2020–21 growing season during the recent virtual citrus Packinghouse Day meeting.
Florida fresh citrus movement increased during the 2019–20 season, which was largely attributed to increased production, Zansler said.
In addition to increased production, COVID-19 concerns served to move some of Florida’s fresh citrus supply as consumers around the globe were forced to drastically change their purchasing behaviors beginning in mid-March. According to Zansler, the short-term demand for fresh citrus may also improve packinghouse and grower returns with Florida production in short supply as the 2020–21 growing season begins.
“Early projections for Florida already indicate that the Florida crop will be down for citrus production, so supply continues to be a challenge for Florida moving into the 2021 season and beyond,” Zansler said.
Long-term Florida fresh citrus availability will be dependent on replanting efforts and developing new citrus varieties geared toward consumer demand, she said.
Moving forward, Zansler said there will be a new baseline for fresh produce sales stemming from increased consumer traffic to traditional brick-and-mortar stores and use of online delivery services.
“Demand is going to depend on long-term changes in consumer behavior,” Zansler said. “Monitoring how and where they’re shopping, what their perceptions are about essential purchases and reinforcing those perceptions are going to be key for Florida.”
Furthermore, long‐term Florida production and infrastructure utilization will also be key for packinghouses and fresh growers. Replanting, reduced costs of production and improved yields to meet market demand will all be essential moving into future seasons.
“Despite heightened consumer demand today, investing in consumer awareness today is going to have a lag effect. It’s going to strengthen and maintain consumer demand for the future,” Zansler concluded.
View Zansler’s Packinghouse Day presentation here.
Ashley Robinson, AgNet Media communications intern, wrote this article.