EU legislation on citrus canker thwarts grapefruit export

The Florida grapefruit season is once again underway. Export to Europe however, has decreased dramatically in the last few years. Reason for the decline is the citrus canker detected in many crops. Citrus canker, caused by bacteria, is a disease affecting citrus species. Infection causes lesions on the leaves, stems, and fruit, and even though the disease is harmless to people (and causes, in fact, only some surface damage to plants) the infected crop is not allowed into EU countries.

Importers say other countries, like Japan and Korea, are less strict and form more attractive customers. “Europe is the only one making such as fuss,” importers state. “Exporters don’t want to take the risk of having crops rejected by customs, so they have started targeting other regions.”

European importers on the other hand don’t want to have to revert to produce from other sources. “We want Florida grapefruit. Fruit from Turkey, Israel or Egypt may look better cosmetically, but the Florida taste is unparalleled.”

Last year the Florida Department of Citrus in cooperation with Dutch website undertook a promotional campaign to bring the issue to attention of government officials. In the past 10 years, grapefruit acreage in Florida has decreased with 54%.

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