Decline in price of orange juice foreseen

October 28, 1990|By Orlando Sentinel

LAKELAND, Fla. -- America's favorite breakfast juice -- Florida OJ -- will be more abundant and cheaper this year as record-busting crops now appear only a few seasons away.

Shrugging off the effects of last winter's killer freeze, the Florida citrus industry within four years could be harvesting a record 217 million boxes of oranges, the Florida Citrus Commission was told in a report released last week.

The good news in the short run means retail orange juice prices should fall 12 percent in the coming year to about $3.76 a gallon. In the long run, it means the nation's reliance on imported juice should drop sharply, said Robert Behr, chief economist for the Florida Department of Citrus.

"Florida again will assert itself as the dominant [orange juice] supplier," to the U.S. market, Mr. Behr told citrus commissioners.

The projections were based on two key reports that showed Florida with a record 78.9 million citrus trees in the ground and the current orange harvest pegged at a hefty 165 million boxes, up 50 percent from last season's freeze-shortened crop.

"The numbers are unbelievable," said William Becker, a grower and processor from Fort Pierce and chairman of the 12-member commission.

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