Pummelos exempt from Florida citrus marketing order

Back in 2016, the Florida citrus industry voted to incorporate pummelos into Order, as pummelos were being used to develop new citrus hybrids. However, there are not yet any pummelo hybrid varieties produced in commercial volume. The current market for pummelos is small, estimated at 100,000 boxes, or 200,000 cartons. In comparison, the entire Florida citrus industry shipped over 6 million cartons of other fresh citrus commodities during the 2020-21 season.

The Order regulates shipments of fresh citrus leaving the State of Florida for grade and size. Intrastate shipments are covered by parallel State regulations. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services inspects fresh citrus at packinghouses and provides shipment data to the Committee. The Committee then uses the data to bill for assessments and to issue industry reports. There are currently no quality requirements in effect for pummelos or pummelo hybrids under the Order, nor are there any State requirements. As a result, there is no inspection and therefore no established method of data collection for pummelos.

Since the Order was amended, Committee staff have been in contact with pummelo growers and handlers, working on a way to collect required information and assessments. Under the current Order requirements and industry practices, there is no uniform way to meet the requirements without creating a specific reporting requirement for pummelos. In addition, pummelo growers and shippers have communicated to the Committee that they would like to be excluded from Order requirements.

During the November 30, 2021, Committee meeting, members discussed the issues related to pummelo shipments, including whether to develop a new system for collecting information and assessments on pummelo fruit. The Committee reports that there are only six pummelo producers and three shippers, most of whom are small grower-shippers not handling any other citrus covered under the Order.

Committee members indicated that with the volume for pummelo and pummelo hybrids remaining stagnant, there is currently no desire to establish grade and size requirements on pummelo at the State or Federal level. Therefore, there are no data from inspection. Consequently, if pummelo and pummelo hybrids remain subject to Order requirements for reporting and assessments, it would be necessary for the Committee to establish separate reporting procedures and documentation for pummelo movement.

The Committee expressed uncertainty that creating requirements specifically for pummelo would add value to the industry. Even if the shipment data were collected, because of confidentiality concerns, the Committee may not be able to report out the results due to the small number of handlers. Further, at the estimated volume shipped, additional assessments would total $3,000. This amount may not be sufficient to cover the cost of developing the necessary reports and ensuring compliance.

This change exempts pummelos from all requirements under the Order, including registration, assessment, and reporting requirements.

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