Grapefruit Challenges and Opportunities

Ernie NeffGrapefruit

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A recent report summarizes the U.S. grapefruit market’s challenges, including citrus greening disease and hurricanes, and opportunities. Lijun (Angelia) Chen and Lisa House with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences authored the report, titled “An Overview of the Grapefruit Market in the U.S.”

“The U.S. grapefruit industry has been facing fierce challenges in both production and consumption,” the report’s summary states. “Natural disasters (e.g., hurricanes) and the rapid spread of citrus greening disease significantly damaged Florida’s grapefruit groves, which used to dominate the country’s production.”

The authors note that while horticultural scientists continue to work on potential solutions to the greening issue, “tremendous efforts have been made to sustain tree health and maintain fruit quality.” They add that those efforts have driven up production costs, which contribute to price increases for the fruit in grocery stores.

“However, this is not the only reason why consumers are leaving the market,” the authors state. They explain that intensified competition from different fruits, consumers’ changing preferences, and interactions between medications and grapefruit have all contributed to declining consumption.

The report states that current active consumers have the strongest inclination to continue purchasing the fruit. On the other hand, it notes, “lost consumers, who are older and more likely to have health issues requiring medications that interact with grapefruit, are unlikely to revisit” the market.

Although lapsed consumers are hesitant and lack recent consumption experience, it may be possible to win them back through timely marketing communication, according to the report. “Marketing strategies focused on enhancing Florida grapefruit’s image (e.g., higher quality) could greatly benefit growers and the industry,” the authors state. They add that another potential way to enhance consumption “is to promote grapefruit-flavored beverages, such as fresh grapefruit juice-infused smoothies and cocktails.”

The report states that consumers eat the fruit primarily for breakfast and snacks, but that “the portion of U.S. consumers not knowing when to eat grapefruit has increased to 28% in 2019 from 24% in 2017.”

See the full report.

Source: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

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