Grapefruit supplies from Florida look tight.
“This is due to good demand at this time of the year. Grapefruit along with all varieties are in good demand during the holiday season,” says Jimmy Johnson of Premier Citrus in Vero Beach, Fl., noting that chain stores are running ads on grapefruit. “Supplies of grapefruit have been short since the 2004 hurricanes that devastated our groves. Each year we lose more acreage due to the spread of disease and high costs of caretaking.”
He adds that since the grove production in general is down in volume, the costs per box are high. “Florida grapefruit supplies will be tight as long as the demand is good because there are really no new plantings in volume. The threat of greening keeps new plantings at a minimum,” says Johnson.
Compared to last year then, supplies are on par. “However, the quality this year is much better—the taste and appearance is very good,” says Johnson. “We had an earlier bloom and, thanks to Mother Nature, the fruit shape and texture turned out well.”
Currently, along with Florida, Texas is also supplying the market with grapefruit. And competing on export markets are Israel, Turkey and Mexico.
Solid grapefruit demand
Demand meanwhile continues to be strong, particularly at this time of the year. “The holiday time is very busy for us,” says Johnson. “Fundraising programs take up a lot of run time for most packing houses and we have good demand from all markets. We have to balance our core chain store and our wholesale market partners.”
In general, he says that grapefruit consumption is keeping up with supply from Florida. “Greening disease continues to drive down production with no near-term solution,” says Johnson. “Our biggest challenge is replacing our lost grapefruit packing volume with round orange and other varieties.”
All of this is leaving pricing steady, though trading on some sizing is happening. Prices are also similar to last season.