Lakeland-based Florida Citrus Mutual has filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Commerce alleging that a major Brazilian orange juice processor violated trade law by dumping product into the domestic market.


In the filing, the citrus trade group claims that beginning in 2008, Sao Paulo-based Citrovita sold orange juice at prices well below its calculated cost of production, according to a Citrus Mutual news release. The practice is prohibited under a current anti-dumping order against Brazilian processors.


“Florida Citrus Mutual continually monitors trade data to determine whether orange juice exporters are playing by the rules and we believe that Citrovita’s exports need to be investigated” Mike Sparks, mutual executive vice president and chief executive officer, said in the release. “The Florida citrus grower deserves to operate in a fair marketplace and that isn’t the case when Brazilian juice processors dump product into the United States. We won’t stand for it.”


This isn't the first action against Brazilian processors. In March 2006, the department issued an anti-dumping order that subjected four Brazilian exporters—Citrosuco, Cutrale, a Louis Dreyfus affiliate and Montecitrus—to pricing scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Commerce.


To offset the unfair prices, the exporters are required to pay an annual deposit that can be refunded only if they do not dump product.


In the recent petition, mutual asked the department to investigate Citrovita through a “change in circumstance” petition that would add the company to the current order.


The anti-dumping order is estimated to have increased the on-tree value of Florida orange crops by 4 percent to 6 percent, or $85 to $125 million, over the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, according to the release.


Under the DOC rules, the agency must decide whether to begin a review within 45 days after the filing. The department then has 270 days to make a determination on mutual’s claims.