Fresh citrus businesses shrug off recession's effects

01/19/2012 05:03:00 PM
Jim Offner

The U.S. economy may have slumped in the past few years, but citrus growers and shippers say they haven’t felt any real negative effects.

“I don’t think there’s been much in the way of a negative for us,” said David Krause, president of the Delano, Calif.-based Paramount Citrus Association Inc.

In fact, he said, the opposite may be true in some instances.

“As an example, the weaker U.S. currency has gained us favor with our export customers,” he said.

“The downturn in the job market has freed up our labor supply, so we’re not suffering there. In terms of consumption patterns, people are buying more at the store and cooking more at home. The foodservice is starting to recover now, but we just haven’t seen the impact in the agricultural sector one might have thought several years back.”

Bob Blakely, director of industry relations with Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual, agreed.

“It hasn’t really affected us. We’ve seen good strong demand,” he said.

“We’ve seen extremely good export market, which is probably a function of the value of the dollar. The dollar being weaker has made our fruit less expensive for our trading partners, so we’ve seen very good export markets. The fact that the Chinese New Year is early this year has increased the early pull for export fruit, and we’ve been able to supply that quite adequately.”

When economy went into meltdown mode in 2008, it sent some negative vibrations through the citrus business, but they were short-lived, said Mike Martin, president of Mission, Texas-based Rio Queen Inc.

“We felt an impact in the 2008-09 season, but we don’t feel that so much now,” he said.

“I’m not sure what the reasons are, but we feel pretty good demand now for the smaller crop.”



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