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Citrus Australia assures consumers:

'No shortage of fresh Australian orange juice'

Peak industry body Citrus Australia has assured Australian consumers they will continue to have consistent access to orange juice made from locally-grown fruit.

Adverse growing conditions and the spread of the Huanglongbing (Citrus Greening) disease have reduced orange production in Brazil, Florida and several other key citrus growing regions around the world. This has created a global shortage of orange juice concentrate, prompting media reports of a looming global orange juice shortage. While Australian juice producers use imported concentrate in some of their products, they also have access to fresh, locally-grown juicing fruit.

"Contrary to some media reports, this situation is not a crisis for countries like Australia that produce juicing fruit and are not solely reliant on imported juice concentrate," said Olivia Tait, Citrus Australia's Juice Project Manager. "As far as we can see, there will continue to be a consistent supply of fresh, 100 pent cent juice available to Australian consumers. We might see a reduction in ambient orange juice made from concentrate on Australian retail shelves, and potentially a move towards more juice blends with a reduced percentage of orange juice in the mix."

The situation has seen prices for Australian-grown juicing oranges increase, providing economic relief to hard-working Australian farmers.

"Over the last five years, prices received by Australian growers supplying the juice sector have hit rock bottom, with many struggling to break even," Tait said. "What we're now seeing is a recalibration in those prices. It's not an overcorrection. The prices growers are now receiving reflect a fair return for the cost and effort that goes into growing and picking citrus fruit."

Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock said the improved returns to juice variety growers would likely encourage further investment in the sector.

"Over recent years, some growers have turned their backs on the juice sector by removing or replacing varieties like Valencia oranges, which are commonly used for juicing," Hancock explained.

"This current situation creates an opportunity for Australian growers to reinvest in the juicing sector by planting and maintaining juicing varieties that will provide the best quality juice year-round."

Hancock said the increased cost of procuring juicing fruit did not have to translate to markedly higher retail prices. "Juice processors are now paying more for their raw ingredients than they were six-months ago, but not all of this added cost has to be passed onto end consumers. We're encouraging stakeholders throughout the juice supply chain to look at their operations and find productivity or efficiency gains that can keep retail prices stable. At between $0.75 and $1.00 per 250ml glass, chilled orange juice represents excellent value for money. There's no reason this needs to change."


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