• Business Business

Sharp decline in orange harvests sends global juice industry into 'crisis': 'Lowest point in decades'

Prices of orange fruit concentrate recently rose to a new high of nearly $5 a pound.

Prices of orange fruit concentrate recently rose to a new high of nearly $5 a pound.

Photo Credit: iStock

Extreme weather is having a negative impact on the orange industry in Brazil and Florida. The problems are hurting harvests and pushing prices higher, the Guardian reported.

What's happening?

Brazil accounts for about 70% of all orange exports. The country has now experienced its third problematic harvest in a row. 

A combination of extreme heat and drought has produced a disease feared by farmers called citrus greening. This incurable disease, made worse by a warming world, has hampered Florida farmers as well. The Sunshine State has also been hit by hurricanes that have damaged oranges.

"The global orange juice industry is in crisis," Francois Sonneville, a senior beverages analyst at Rabobank, told the Guardian. "The Florida industry has all but disappeared, and Brazilian groves are plagued by disease, rising costs, and unfavourable growing conditions, leaving global orange juice supplies at their lowest point in decades."

Because of this, the Guardian reported, the International Fruit and Vegetable Juice Association said it's "considering lobbying for a rewrite of UN-level food regulations so that orange juice can contain other citrus fruits, as well as pursuing rule changes at the country level." 

That means it may not be long before the orange juice you buy at the store may contain some other juices to "backfill" for the orange shortage, so to speak. 

Why are poor orange harvests important?

According to the Guardian report, wholesale prices have "gone bananas" in Brazil. Prices of orange fruit concentrate recently rose to a new high of nearly $5 a pound. Consumer demand for oranges has dropped, forcing orange juice makers to find alternative fruits to use, like mandarins.

There are more than two million farms in the United States, and more than half the land is used for agricultural production. What is happening in Florida is a microcosm for agricultural problems across an overheating planet. Agriculture is very sensitive to changes in weather and climate. 

As heat-trapping gases build up in our atmosphere, there is more extreme weather that can damage harvests around the world. Temperature and precipitation changes brought on by a warming Earth can "very likely expand the occurrence and range of insects, weeds, and diseases," according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This could mean a greater need for farmers to use weed and pest control.

What's being done about a warming world's impact on farming?

There is hope for farmers who are facing challenges from a warming planet. A recent example is a win-win for both farmers and our environment. Wind turbines installed on farmland are helping generate a clean, renewable source of energy and, at the same time, providing a source of much-needed revenue for farmers.

NASA has been using artificial intelligence and satellite imagery to modernize farming. These efforts will address food security and help rebuild local agriculture.

We can all help reduce the amount of heat-trapping gases added to our atmosphere by changing how we buy, cook, eat, and reuse food.

Join our free newsletter for cool news and actionable info that makes it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider