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Florida citrus outlook for 1991-92.

The Florida Citrus industry is getting used to surprises, according to a Florida Citrus Mutual executive.

Bobby F. McKown, executive vice president of the Lakeland, Fla.-based citrus growers association, said that the beginning of the 1991-92 season shocked many growers. But now, roughly halfway through the season, growers are content with the growing and market conditions and are hopeful that the situation will remain stable for the rest of the season.

"The Florida citrus industry was caught off guard by the first crop forecast of the season. The industry had just harvested a bumper crop during the 1990-91 season, a recovery that had been unexpected because of the severe freeze damage the industry suffered in December 1989. We thought the 1991-92 crop was also going to be big because we'd had a mild winter and the drought that had affected much of the state had finally ended," McKown said. "We were shocked when the federal forecasters predicted only 136 million boxes of oranges and 42.5 million boxes of grapefruit. Those estimates, respectively, were 10 percent and 6 percent less than last season. The forecasters attributed the reduction to simply less fruit per tree."

Growers initially doubted the forecast, however, subsequent surveys of groves, as well as early indications from growers' harvests, show that the forecasters are probably right, McKown noted.

"Once we got over the shock and the industry assimilated the news, the situation dramatically improved for growers," McKown said. "Prices for oranges rose considerably. Prior to the October 10 forecast, growers were receiving 85 cents to $1 for their oranges for processing. Now, following the Brazilian price increases, they're getting roughly 60 percent more," McKown said.

Based on the USDA's estimate that Florida processors will get a frozen concentrated orange juice yield of 1.50 gallons from each box of oranges, and taking the current price scenario into account, McKown estimated that Florida processors will pack about 137 million gallons of FCOJ this season.

"Despite the crop reduction from last season, consumers will still have an adequate supply of orange juice," McKown said.

Based on the market conditions during the first part of the season, McKown offered the following forecasts regarding processed oranges for the 1991-92 season.

* Given the lower USDA crop forecast, Florida orange juice production in 1991-92 is projected at 778.8 million SSE gallons, as compared with 836.6 million SSE gallons in 1990-91.

* The recent price increases in bulk FCOJ prices is expected to push retail prices up 10.7 percent from an estimated $3.75 per SSE gallon for 1991.

* U.S. orange juice consumption is expected to fall by 4.5 percent to 5 percent in 1992.

* U.S. orange juice imports this season should show little change from an estimated 360 million SSE gallons for the 1990-91 season.

* Brazilian FCOJ production of 274.1 million 42 [degrees] brix gallons in 1991-92 will be 20.7 million gallons lower than last season.

* Despite increased wholesale prices, Brazilian FCOJ exports are expected to be unchanged from last season's volume of 280.8 million 42 [degrees] brix gallons.

* Carry-over stocks of FCOJ in Brazil are forecast to decline 34.6 percent, or 13.8 million 42 [degrees] brix gallons, from last season.

* Due to higher processed prices and increased California production, fresh utilization of Florida round oranges and Temples in 1991-92 is projected at 10 million boxes, down 18 percent, or 2.2 million boxes, from last season.

* Chilled juice utilization is projected to fall 1.5 percent to 37.5 million boxes in 1991-92 as stocks of chilled juice in Florida are apparently high.

* Florida processors are projected to utilize 89.4 million boxes of round oranges and Temples in producing 137.3 million 42 [degrees] brix gallons of FCOJ this season.

* Florida FCOJ movement in 1991-92 is projected at 194.3 million 42 [degrees] brix gallons, as opposed to the estimated 1990-91 movement of 216.8 million 42 [degrees] brix gallons.

"We're optimistic about this season's prospects. Last season, we had the largest volume of fresh fruit shipments since the 1975-76 season. This was mostly due to the combination of three factors--our bumper crop, the lack of Texas grapefruit production because of the 1989 freeze, and the 1990 freeze that severely curtailed California's fresh citrus shipments. The industry capitalized on this and we shipped 74.84 million cartons to the fresh market last season for a record $620 million. Orange shipments (excluding Temples) of over 11 million cartons were the highest since the 1967-68 season. In addition, last year the volume of juice movement increased meaning people are drinking more orange and grapefruit juice, a trend we hope continues," McKown said. "However, I must add that all our optimism for this season could be obliterated if growing conditions change for the worse. This season we're hoping for the best."

Bobby F. McKown is executive vice president of Florida Citrus Mutual, a Lakeland, Fla.-based citrus growers association with 12,223 members. It is the state's largest association of citrus growers.
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Article Details
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Author:McKown, Bobby F.
Publication:Frozen Food Digest
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Feb 1, 1992
Next Article:It's time that we tell the good news about frozen vegetables.

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