Florida citrus crop heavily impacted by Hurricane Irma

b97e6259-af63-4462-acc6-0e7a150defb3articleimage.jpg

12 Sep 2017 --- In less than twenty-four hours, Hurricane Irma winds ripped through a once promising Florida citrus crop taking as much as 75 percent of the fruit from the trees. Hurricane Irma has since been weakened to a tropical storm, but still produced near hurricane-force winds, storm surges and flooding. Hurricane Irma left millions without power in the heavily populated areas of central Florida earlier this week. 

Florida is the world's second-largest orange juice producer, behind Brazil, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Florida's citrus industry was already struggling with declining production because of citrus greening, an incurable disease spread by an insect that impairs trees' circulation and nutrition.

However, orange juice futures have fallen sharply since Monday as destruction from the hurricane appeared to be less than first feared. Orange juice futures traded about 3.5 percent lower after jumping nearly 13 percent last week ahead of anticipated crop destruction from the hurricane. 

That was orange juice futures' best week since Oct. 16, 2015, when orange juice futures gained more than 16 percent.

“Absolutely there was some loss, but it was not total devastation, which was what the market was basically pricing in,” said Judy Ganes Chase, founder of J. Ganes Consulting LLC.

Chase also said she hasn't heard of any radical damages at processing plants of big juice companies.

Brazil, the world's largest grower, is expected to have a major crop this year, which would provide a buffer to what might have been lost in Florida. Brazilian fresh orange production is forecast at 471 million boxes, up from 352 million in 2016-2017 and the highest total since 2012-2013.

The US Department of Agriculture is expected to put out its first estimate for the 2017-2018 Florida crop next month. Last year's final estimate of 68.7 million boxes was the lowest output since 1964.

Southwest Florida grower, Wayne Simmons, president of LaBelle Fruit Co. LLC, estimated it lost 75 percent of its early-mid oranges and 65 percent of its Valencias. He also reported much of his acreage underwater. “We’re just trying to clean up the mess,” Simmons said.

Mongi Zekri, a University of Florida citrus agent working out of the Hendry County Cooperative Extension Service office in LaBelle, estimated Irma destroyed 60 percent of that county's orange crop. Hendry County leads the state with 10.1 million citrus trees, according to a US Department of Agriculture report.

Still, Irma caused widespread damage across Florida citrus-growing region, said Andrew Meadows, a spokesman for Lakeland-base Florida Citrus Mutual, the growers’ trade group.

Meadows estimated fruit losses at 20 to 50 percent, depending upon location, he said. But the storm affected the state’s top five citrus growing counties – Polk, Hendry, Highlands, Hardee and DeSoto – which together account for most of Florida’s orange production.

“The thing that’s frustrating is that first Hurricane Irma was supposed to go along the East Coast, then it supposedly shifted to just off the West Coast,” Meadows said. “It ended right through the uprights, right up to the spine of the citrus industry.”

Jochen Heininger, Vice President Marketing & Product Management EMEAI, WILD Flavors & Specialty Ingredients spoke to FoodIngredientsFirst at drinktec in Munich, yesterday. “When sourcing raw materials it is about getting the right quality for citrus, to deliver retailers as well as consumers. In light of the recent hurricane in Florida, citrus could be very heavily affected, it’s maybe too early to say, but it could influence the market for sure.”

Still, orange flavors are set to be a hit looking into next year: “Our Original Oranges flavors are the ones to watch out for in 2018 – the orange flavor comes from the original orange crops in Florida, Brazil and Valencia. The flavors give a real authenticity to a product, the difference in the flavor profile is there but still remains an authentic orange flavor,” Heininger explains. 

Meanwhile, cotton futures also fell sharply, down 2.5 percent after rising more than 5 percent in September through Friday. Cotton is a key crop in Georgia and the Carolinas that doesn't fare well in severely wet weather.

Last month, Hurricane Harvey destroyed an estimated US$150 million of cotton crops in Texas, ripping the bolls off plants and leaving white fiber strewn across fields, according to Reuters.

Related Articles

Food Ingredients News

FiE 2017 Innovation Awards: Life Stages and Growth categories – the nominees

20 Nov 2017 --- Last week, FoodIngredientsFirst took a look at some of the award nominees for the Reduction & Reformulation Innovation Award and the Sustainability and Organic Champion Award as well as the clean Label & Natural Innovation Award. On 28 November, the winners of this year's FiE Innovation Awards will be announced at the world's largest food and beverage ingredients show. 

Food Ingredients News

Symrise launches citrus essence oil replacers to address market challenges

15 Nov 2017 --- Symrise has announced the launch of a new series of citrus essence oil replacers, including certified organics. The fully sustainable products are designed to mimic the taste profile of citrus essence oils. 

Food Ingredients News

Carrot fibers from FoodSolutionsTeam: Closing the door on food waste

14 Nov 2017 --- FoodSolutionsTeam has been shortlisted for the upcoming Food ingredients Innovation Awards 2017, and specifically in the sector of the Sustainability Champion Award Shortlist for its’ present KaroPRO, a functional, natural and sustainable carrot fiber ingredient. Derived from side streams of vegetable juice production, KaroPRO is produced using innovative drying and milling technologies. The development of KaroPRO is claimed to reduce food waste and at the same time offer a highly functional ingredient with a positive declaration and beneficial nutritional values.

Food Ingredients News

Natural and authentic taste solutions: (Part 2) Challenges in citrus supply

09 Nov 2017 --- Back in September, and in less than twenty-four hours, Hurricane Irma winds ripped through a promising Florida citrus crop taking as much as 75 percent of the fruit from the trees.  Florida is the world's second-largest orange juice producer, behind Brazil and Florida's citrus industry was already struggling with declining production because of citrus greening, an incurable disease spread by an insect that impairs trees' circulation and nutrition.

Food Ingredients News

Natural and authentic taste solutions: (Part 1) Citrus flavors dominate beverage space

06 Nov 2017 --- Citrus is a perennial top flavor choice for beverages and offer a more diverse range of taste tones than almost any other fruit category. No other taste enjoys greater acceptance in the beverage industry and is consistently one of the most popular flavors for sweet food products. The citrus taste is a favorite in nearly all countries around the globe.

More Articles