At the end of the 2017 growing season, there were over 437,000 acres of citrus that were planted in Florida. This acreage was able to produce over 77 million boxes of fruit. Out of what was harvested, around 90% of the citrus grown in Florida was processed into juice products. The remainder was then sold as fresh fruit.
The on-tree value of the Florida citrus industry is estimated to be around $800 million each year. This value can be very fluid, however, as the crop is priced at the time of harvest, which affects the value of 40% of the processed fruit and all of the fresh fruit that is eventually sold.
Most of the citrus that is harvested in Florida will be sent to processing plants or packing houses located throughout the state. There are 34 facilities currently operating in Florida that handle the harvest each year. From these facilities, the juice and fruit will be sent to various domestic and international markets for consumption.
Over 76,000 people are employed in some way because of the Florida citrus industry, with tens of thousands more directly or indirectly supported by industry activities.
Important Florida Citrus Industry Statistics
#1. In 2016, fresh fruit exports from the Florida citrus industry totaled 6 million bushel cartons, each weighing 45 pounds. Canada receives a majority of the specialty citrus and oranges that are exported from Florida, while Japan receives a majority of the exported grapefruits. (Florida Citrus Manual)
#2. The Florida citrus industry helped to export more than 10 million gallons of frozen orange juice concentrate and 1.7 million gallons of frozen grapefruit juice concentrate in 2016. (Florida Citrus Manual)
#3. There are 45,000 full-time and part-time jobs which are directly or indirectly supported by the Florida citrus industry each year. Their work creates an economic impact contribution of $8.6 billion each year. (Florida Citrus Manual)
#4. In the 2017 growing season, Florida accounted for 45% of the total citrus products that were produced in the United States. California produced 51% of the citrus, while Arizona and Texas combined to produce 4% of the citrus. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#5. Grapefruit production in Florida during the 2017 growing season reached 7.76 million boxes, which was 28% less than what was produced the year before. Total citrus was also down for the industry by 17% from the previous season. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#6. Tangelo production within the citrus industry is up 15% in 2017 from 2016 figures, although Florida reports this citrus product with their figures for mandarins and tangerines. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#7. Hurricane Irma is believed to have caused over $760 million in damage to the Florida citrus industry, which is still affecting the economic impact that growers are able to make. Some growers reported a 70% crop loss after the hurricane’s landfall in 2017. Some groves were left to sit in standing water for up to 3 weeks after the storm. (Florida Citrus)
#8. After Hurricane Irma, orange juice futures rose less than 0.5% to settle at $1.61 per pound. Contract swings of more than 2% were frequent, though the juice futures contracts traded up by 20% from August to November that year. (CNBC)
#9. In 2017, there were over 11,000 acres of new citrus groves planted in Florida, which was 16% higher than the new plantings which occurred in 2016. The industry is still operating at 50% of the acreage capacity that it had in 1996, when over 857,000 acres were planted. (Citrus Industry Magazine)
#10. Specialty citrus fruit acreage in Florida decreased from 14,000 acres in 2016 to 13,000 acres in 2017. (Citrus Industry Magazine)
#11. The Indian River area in Florida is home to 73% of the acreage that is planted for grapefruits in Florida. Total acreage for grapefruits dropped to 36,000 in 2017, down over 4,000 acres from the year before. (Citrus Industry Magazine)
#12. Red grapefruit accounts for 76% of the grapefruit products that are produced by the Florida citrus industry each year. While grapefruit accounts for 23% of the remaining 24% of the crop. (Citrus Industry Magazine)
#13. 89% of the acreage that is planted with citrus in Florida is dedicated to growing oranges. Total acreage for orange groves in 2017 totaled 405,800. (Citrus Industry Magazine)
#14. 56% of the oranges that are grown in Florida are Valencias. About 2% of the oranges that are harvested each year are classified as an “unidentified” variety. (Citrus Industry Magazine)
#15. Florida produces more orange juice than any other state. If Florida were its own country, it would be the second-largest producer of orange juice in the world, behind only Brazil. (Visit Florida)
#16. The Florida citrus industry produces about $1 billion in tax revenues each year. These funds are used to support healthcare services, schools, and highways within the state. (Visit Florida)
#17. There are 150+ species of wildlife that thrive within the citrus grove ecosystems that are part of the industry. (Visit Florida)
#18. For every acre of mature trees that are maintained by the Florida citrus industry, 16.7 tons of oxygen is produced over the course of a single year. (Visit Florida)
Florida Citrus Industry Trends and Analysis
Even with the impact of hurricanes in 2017, along with some cold weather patterns, the 2018 season has offered the first stable economic forecast in more than a decade. Although stability is a good first step, the 2018 and 2019 growing seasons are the lowest forecasts made for the citrus industry in the last 75 years.
About 46 million boxes of oranges are expected by the end of 2018, which would be a decrease of more than 30% from the year before. The 2018 forecast for grapefruit production is 40% lower than the year before.
Although the direct predictions about the end of Florida’s citrus industry have gone away since the days after Hurricane Irma, growers are still struggling to produce crops that can meet demand levels domestically and around the world. Specialty fruit acreage is declining, production is low, and that is causing the price of fruit and juice to be much higher for consumers.
The next 5-year period is critical for the Florida citrus industry. If the industry can avoid another devastating hurricane and weather patterns are good, then the new acreage will become productive and established groves will once again produce. Otherwise, expect the industry to remain in a holding pattern to facilitate its own survival.