12 August 1997
Florida citrus farmers feel the squeeze
FLORIDA is awash with juice from last seasons citrus crop, and the prospect of yet another bumper crop is putting the squeeze on farmers.
Orange juice futures on the New York Cotton Exchange are worth just 70 cents a pound for soluble solids today, compared with $1.20 a year ago.
The 1996-1997 season produced a record 225 million 90lb (40.82kg) boxes of oranges. Other citrus fruits such as grapefruit are also enjoying another bumper season.
The picture will be clearer in October when the US Department of Agriculture publishes its authoritative crop estimates.
Florida farmers face low prices as fruit juice processors point to unsold stocks. The farmers also face greater competition from other leading citrus growers such as Brazil and Mexico. The federal government is trying to prise open the US market to greater competition.
The situation is likely to get worse unless global demand increases considerably.