The current state of the commercial citrus marketplace in Florida justifies the need for small growers to find niche markets in which to sell their fruit, reports Citrus Industry. Deplorable prices for juice oranges are predicted to continue through the upcoming season. A recent University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences economic report indicates the possibility that perhaps large grower operations will struggle to break even with the forward contract pricing figures in place at this time.
The time has arrived for small growers to either adapt or perish. Not only is economic survival paramount, the continuing legacies of multi-generational citrus growers are at stake.
Farming is a time-demanding occupation, and small citrus growers are no exception. Traditional niche markets such as u-pick or local farmers markets are logical choices for the dooryard grower. However, they are impractical for small commercial growers because they have more fruit to sell than these markets can typically absorb, and the grower has little to no time available to be a self-marketer. Therefore, what is needed is an innovative approach and a competent support network to facilitate the exploration, establishment and maintenance of new niche markets designed specifically to assist small growers.