Citrus growers optimistic despite shortage

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 5:56 PM EST
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Another item on your grocery list is going to be more expensive.

Orange juice sales surged during the pandemic and now prices are climbing too.

Citrus disease and less than favorable weather conditions have hurt orange crops over the past few years.

The crop shortage means there’s not enough supply to meet the demand.

“We're seeing it in orange juice, we're seeing it in grapefruit, we're seeing it in pretty much all citrus grown in Florida because our costs to grow this fruit have grown exponentially,” said Dan Richey, President and CEO of Riverfront Packing Company in Vero Beach. “We can't raise the price of our product enough to cover the increase in costs.”

The USDA expects Florida to produce nearly 45 million boxes of oranges this year, which would be considered the smallest harvest the state has produced in nearly 80 years.

However, despite the squeeze on the industry, many citrus growers are staying optimistic.

“We're replanting 1,000 acres of grapefruit, so we're not going away,” said Richey. “We're here for the long haul and this industry will survive.”

In addition to higher prices for oranges, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that food made at home is 6.5% more expensive than it was last year.

Scripps Only Content 2022