Florida Orange Harvest Lowest in 23 Years

Wayne Ellis

orange grove

Florida Orange Harvest Lowest in 23 Years (Bloomberg)

The Florida orange harvest for 2013, which began Oct. 1, will end the year at 121 million boxes, the fewest since 1990, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Orange juice futures contracts are expected to rise to $1.6465 per pound by the end of June, up from $1.39 on Dec. 24, according to an estimate put together by Bloomberg survey. Dry weather in Florida, along with the infestation of the Asian citrus psyllid — a gnat-sized insect — are being blamed for the smaller crop. Ultimately, the smaller crop will impact both Pepsico and Coca Cola’s orange-juice production and prices, causing both to raise prices of Tropicana and Minute Maid brands, respectively. For the year, orange juice prices rose 18 percent, trailing only natural gas and cocoa among the 19 raw materials tracked by the Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index, in terms of percentage price gains. For the year ahead, investors can count on the continued onslaught of the psyllid to cut into production, while they hope for more rain to offset that reduction.

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