Frans van der Burg, Total Produce:

“Late and short Florida grapefruit season after damage by Hurricane Irma”

Hurricane Irma, which scourged Florida early in September, has had major consequences for the grapefruit market. “Our supplier expects to ship 50 per cent less Florida grapefruit,” says Frans van der Burg of Total Produce in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The importer will receive the first supply of the Star Ruby and Ruby Red varieties at the end of next week, some weeks later than usually. “It’s an unpleasant situation. The trees were heavy with fruit because the harvest was imminent, but you can’t do anything against natural disasters.”

“Although the circumstances weren’t as miserable as on the Caribbean Islands, the growers in Florida also suffered much damage, especially because of the floods. Experts say it’s disastrous when trees are under water for more than 72 hours. Virus pressure increases because of this, and it can take the trees two years to recover from this,” Frans says. “All in all, it’ll be a short season, and supply will consist primarily of small sizes (48-56), because larger sizes (32-36) were blown from the trees first.”

“It’s not becoming any easier for grapefruit growers in Florida. Much time and research is put into finding a solution for the problems of citrus greening, but there is no simple solution. Because of that, the area has shown a decreasing trend in recent years, while demand is sky-high, because it’s the most flavourful grapefruit available globally. It’s therefore expected that prices for Florida grapefruit will be even more expensive. The Florida grapefruit is unequalled in flavour. We can expect higher prices due to a good domestic market in the US in particular. The Mediterranean grapefruit might have much lower prices and a better-looking peel, but their eating quality quite often leaves something to be desired,” the importer says.

“Thanks to the acquisition of DNE World Fruit by Wonderful Citrus, we now also have the option of packing grapefruit from Texas under our own brand Pride. They were lucky there, because Hurricane Harvey missed the production area by 200 miles. For us, the fruit from Texas could be a good alternative when there’s less available from Florida.” Total Produce BV sells grapefruit throughout Europe, but regarding consumption, France will continue to be the biggest buyer according to Frans. “Unfortunately, it will be a short season, in addition to a late season.”

For more information:
Frans van der Burg
Total Produce BV
T +31 10 244 84 16

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