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Orange shortage hits juice manufacturers.

A world shortage of juicing oranges is developing due to frost and poor crops in the main growing areas.

Juice manufacturers are complaining that the cost of raw materials has risen by up to 50% this year, and warn that prices may have to rise.

"The current crop situation is going to affect the freshly squeezed market sector most strongly as we are restricted in the type of oranges we can use for squeezing," explained Andrew Lord, MD of The Serious Food Company, which manufactures about half the freshly-squeezed orange juice on supermarket shelves in the UK.

"The industry is doing its very best to meet demand without compromising quality or taste, but, naturally, prices are massively increasing in line with the shortage."

The comments come on the heels of USDA estimates showing Florida's orange crop will be 9% lower than last year at 135 million boxes. Florida's Department of Citrus blamed persistent hurricane damage and said the state's groves had the capacity to produce up to 185 million boxes.

Mike Yetter, FDOC international business director, admitted that orange prices would continue to rise. "We still think oranges offer great value, though."

Other growing regions have also suffered. There has been frost in Uruguay and Argentina, which has taken out almost half the crop. South Africa has had a below average crop and floods have delayed picking. It means fruit is taking longer to ship and as much as 40% will be imported to the EU under punitive 15% tariffs.

A freeze in Australia has turned it into a net importer of oranges this year. And Brazil, normally the fourth largest supplier in the southern hemisphere, is absorbing almost all its harvest in the domestic manufacture of concentrates.

It all stacked up to a retail price increase of 20-30p/litre, Lord said. But he reckoned that would have little impact on sales growth, which is at about 6% a year for freshly squeezed juices.
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Title Annotation:fresh produce
Author:Fortescue, Sam
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 21, 2006
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