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CITRUS CROP SUPPLIES REMAIN HIGH, PRICES LOW DESPITE LOWER USDA ESTIMATE

 LAKELAND, Fla., Oct. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Supplies of fresh citrus fruit, orange juice and grapefruit juice should remain high and retail prices low despite the U.S. Department of Agriculture's expectation of a slightly lower 1993-94 crop size, which was announced today.
 The estimated Florida orange crop of 172.0 million boxes is down 7.8 percent from last year's harvest, and the predicted grapefruit crop of 49.0 million boxes represents an approximate decrease of 11.0 percent. The USDA's total estimate for the Florida citrus crop is 230.4 million boxes, down 7.9 percent.
 Based on the report, Florida orange juice production is expected to total 1.01 billion gallons for the 1992-93 season, down 10.6 percent from production last season.
 "If the USDA forecasts are realized, it should mean that the retail prices of Florida citrus products will remain favorable again this year," says Daniel Santangelo, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus. "Currently, orange juice retail prices are at their lowest levels in six years."
 Santangelo notes that nutrient-dense Florida orange juice will continue to be a good value for consumers. "New research is finding that the antioxidants and nutrients in Florida orange juice possibly may help prevent major ailments like certain cancers and heart disease. With continued lower prices, Florida citrus will remain a better bargain than other fruits and beverages," he says.
 Florida dominates U.S. citrus production, accounting for three- fourths of the nation's annual citrus crop and more than 94 percent of the orange juice supply. "Florida's subtropical climate, warm nights and sandy soil make the state perfect for growing the world's best citrus, and we continue to have more high-quality products to meet consumer demand," Santangelo says.
 Supported by intense scientific and technical research, Florida is poised to produce increasingly larger crops throughout the 1990s as new plantings mature. "Florida's citrus growers have the largest tree inventory in history and have made a long-term commitment to produce greater volumes of top-quality citrus products to satisfy the growing demand here in the United States, while building strong export markets," Santangelo concludes.
 -0- 10/12/93
 /CONTACT: John Cline or Joseph Fleischer of Hill and Knowlton, Inc. 212-697-5600/


CO: Florida Department of Citrus ST: Florida IN: SU:

TW -- NY088 -- 1255 10/12/93 16:00 EDT
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Date:Oct 12, 1993
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