VERO BEACH, Fla. — Last season’s cold weather has knocked out Florida navel volume and bumped up prices.
The trees reacted by producing a much lighter than normal crop this fall.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Florida this season is expected to pack 2.3 million boxes of navels, down 23% from last season’s crop. About 74% of Florida’s navels ship fresh.
Florida grower-shippers in October characterized navel supplies as tight.
David Mixon, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Seald Sweet International, in late October quoted $16 f.o.b.s for navels and for oranges purchased for fresh-squeezed juicing.
“Now that we have limited volume, (the market) will have to start reflecting that increasing cost of doing business,” he said. “Costs are continuing to accelerate beyond belief with production care and traceability issues. Prices have never reflected that cost of doing business.”
The USDA on Oct. 23 reported 4/5 bushel cartons of Florida navels in Chicago selling for $20 for 56s and 64s and $18 for 80s.
That was similar to last year in late October when the USDA reported 4/5 bushel cartons of Florida navels in Chicago selling for $22 for 48s and 56s, $18-20 for 64s, $19-20 for 80s and $17-18 for 100s.
Pickings in central Florida, Florida’s leading orange and tangerine producing region, began in late September, with promotable volume starting in October.
Al Finch, vice president of sales and marketing for Diversified Citrus Marketing, the Lake Hamilton-based sales agency that markets for Dundee Citrus Growers Association, Dundee, said demand for Florida oranges has been strong.
“Even with the smaller navel crop, demand has been strong, moving right through the navels,” he said in late October.
Finch attributes some of the demand to high imported citrus prices.
Many retailers have been excited to start Florida fruit and have heavily promoted Florida fruit in October prior to California, which normally starts by early November.