US (FL): Economist says citrus growers can expect profitable season

A projected decline in retail orange juice prices leading to a sharp increase in OJ sales during the next year will lead Florida citrus growers to another profitable season. That was the optimistic forecast Matt Salois, director of economic and market research at the Florida Department of Citrus, gave Wednesday to the Florida Citrus Commission for the 2012-13 citrus season that began this month. In the department's newest annual season forecast, Salois projected Florida orange growers would receive an average $1.39 per pound solids for early and mid-season oranges picked through March and $1.49 for late-season Valencia oranges. He forecast an average $1.35 per pound solids for white grapefruit and $1.44 for red grapefruit.

The average break-even cost for growing oranges in Florida is $1.30 per pound solids, a measure of how much juice is squeezed from fruit. Annually about 95 percent of Florida oranges and 60 percent of grapefruit go to juice. Total gross revenue from the 2012-13 Florida orange crop should be at least $1.2 billion, making it the fifth-highest revenue season on record, Salois said. Salois predicted the average retail price for a gallon of orange juice will drop 4.7 percent to $5.94, down from the 2011-12 record high of $6.23 per gallon. The price drop should juice OJ sales for the season by 6 percent, he said.


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