Doug OhlemeierDan Richey, chief executive officer of Riverfront Groves LLC, Vero Beach, Fla., inspects red grapefruit in late September. Florida grower-shippers are experiencing higher than normal opening season prices. VERO BEACH, Fla. — Because of a shortage of California fruit, Florida citrus shippers are beginning their new season with higher than normal grapefruit prices.
Growers in the Indian River region began harvesting on time Sept. 24, shippers said.
Matt Reel, director of sales for IMG Citrus Inc., said California finished its grapefruit in early to mid-September, a couple of weeks earlier than normal.
He said the earlier than normal ending is keeping grapefruit prices higher than normal.
Reel said he expects prices to remain higher than normal until Florida begins to increase volume in early to mid-October.
“We are experiencing a two- to three-week gap on store shelves for grapefruit,” he said Sept. 24. “Demand for us will be excellent at the start. It will take a few weeks to fill that pipeline up.”
In late September, Reel said IMG was filling orders for $16 on the low end to as high as $28 for 4/5-bushel cartons of Florida grapefruit.
Prices typically average $14-22 for late September and early October, Reel said.
IMG began harvesting grapefruit and tangerines in late September and planned to start its navels in early October while Riverfront Groves LLC started grapefruit harvesting Sept. 24.
“The season is shaping up well,” Dan Richey, chief executive officer, said in late September. “We are seeing a normal start. Quality appears to be better than last year.”