Soaring Costs for California Citrus Growers

Len Wilcox California Corner


A report issued by California Citrus Mutual (CCM) says that COVID-19 and now a devastating drought have resulted in staggering increases in costs for citrus growers, with only a minimal price correction in the market.

Additionally, earlier this year, some growers in Ventura and San Diego counties reported losses due to a severe storm that uprooted trees. The storm also damaged ripe fruit awaiting harvest on the trees.

An internal industry survey of California citrus growers conducted by CCM found that, on average, farming costs for the 2020-21 season increased by nearly $1,000 per acre. This represents a 19% increase since the start of the pandemic.

According to CCM, the two largest cost drivers are water and shipping. The spot market for surface water has increased 400%. In many cases, water is not available at all. Shipping costs are up as much as 380% since the start of the pandemic. This is due to the limited supply of containers and delays at ports around the world.

While water and shipping costs are up significantly, all farming costs have increased over the past 18 months. Fertilizer costs are up 49%, and diesel fuel costs are up 38%, leading to additional costs throughout the supply chain.

“As the cost of growing and delivering high-quality California citrus increases, so must the prices consumers pay at the grocery store,” said Casey Creamer, CCM president/chief executive officer. “Growers simply cannot absorb these increases and stay in business. Now more than ever, growers, retailers and consumers must work together to maintain cost controls and support policies that keep fresh and healthy food like California citrus plentiful and affordable.”

Source: California Citrus Mutual

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