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US (FL): Slightly larger grapefruit volume expected

The most recent estimates for this year's Florida grapefruit crop are slightly higher than last year's production. With a gap in supplies between the California season and the Florida season, that fruit has, so far, been well- received by a hungry market.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service released its citrus estimates on Thursday, and projections for this year's Florida grapefruit crop total 20.3 million boxes. That's 8 percent higher than last season's production of 18.9 million boxes, and while it's not an extraordinary gain in production, the added supplies have found a receptive market.

“Movement has been good,” said Matt Kastensmidt, domestic sales manager for IMG Citrus in Florida. “There was a gap between the season in California and the Florida season, so our grapefruit came into an empty market.” Although the gap between supply and demand has diminished as the Florida season had progressed, sales were helped by the absence of competition from imports along with an empty domestic market.

“Domestically, we don't really have pressure from imported citrus,” said David Brocksmith, sales manager for Seald Sweet. “In Europe, we have a little more competition from Central American fruit, but not here.”

Both Kastensmidt and Brocksmith noted that sizes this year will likely run a little smaller than last season, but that's more telling of last year's large sizes than an indictment on this year's fruit.

“Sizes were much larger last year,” said Kastensmidt. “Sizing is more average this year, so we'll be able to supply customers who want smaller sizes as well as larger sizes.”

Weather free of any major disruptions to the crop has also helped usher in a good year, and that will certainly contribute to, what is likely to be, a good year.

“It looks like it will be a well-balanced season, based on what we've seen so far,” said Brocksmith. “We'll be able to promote more fruit this year, growers will make a decent return and we'll have enough fruit to satisfy the market.”

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