Lower Florida citrus volume expected - The Packer

Lower Florida citrus volume expected

11/13/2009 04:10:00 PM

VERO BEACH, Fla. — This year’s Florida citrus deal should see a reduction in volume on all varieties, with particular declines in navels and sunburst tangerines.

The lower production should keep prices strong.

Doug Ohlemeier

Dan Richey, chief executive officer of Riverfront Groves LLC, Vero Beach, Fla., views grapefruit running on the packing line. Richey says this year’s deal is bringing more consistent sizings which won’t be heavier towards the larger sizes. The improved sizings should help growers better manage their crop, he said.

The state’s shippers welcomed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s lifting of restrictions it had placed on Florida citrus being shipped to other citrus-producing states.

In its Oct. 9 season opening forecast, the USDA predicted lower volume of oranges and grapefruit.

Though forecasters predict the state to pack 77% more honey tangerines, up 1 million boxes from last season’s 1.3 million boxes, shippers say the state should see smaller fall shipments and smaller sizes of sunburst tangerines.

“There’s not an abundance of good tangerines out there,” Scott George, vice president of sales and marketing for DLF International Inc., said in late October. “Tangerines are fairly tight. There’s no surplus of good fruit. It has been very competitive, as far as procuring fruit.”

Florida shippers are expected to pack 161.7 million equivalent cartons of all citrus fruit this season, down 14% from the 189 million boxes the state packed last season.

Shippers, however, said they were optimistic and were expecting a strong season.

Despite declining production, David Mixon, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Seald Sweet International, said he’s confident the state will have enough fruit to produce a marketable crop.

“There’s not a bumper crop of product that’s available but we have a good volume of marketable and very good quality fruit that will show some higher retails, but not so high that there’s not an opportunity for consumers,” Mixon said in late October.

“With costs increasing across the board, citrus will be very competitive with other items such as apples, pears and grapes, but will still be at a comparable value to the consumer. We all should be able to adjust to the actual demand of the product against the production.”

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