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Inflation hits orange prices, pushing Florida state fruit up nearly 9%

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The national inflation rate in the United States has reached 7%. Last month, the main price increases were concentrated in melons and vegetables. Now the price hikes have hit closer to home in Florida, with oranges.

Through the grocery list, pork, beef and eggs are finally feeling less pressure from inflation. Pork products like bacon are a bit cheaper and beef is down 2%. Pork chops are seeing their prices start to fall, even as canned ham products and luncheon meats are seeing their prices rise.

According to the December inflation measure, fish and chicken are still more expensive. Consumers’ wallets are hit the hardest where they buy fresh food, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables.

Fruit is generally 7.9% more expensive than last year. Vegetables are less expensive, having risen only 2.4% collectively, year-over-year. When it comes to monthly increases, however, citrus is king for price increases, with a collective spend 6.5% higher at the end of 2021.

While price increases are even higher in the fresh fruits and vegetables segment of the grocery list, the most inflated price was for citrus fruits, particularly oranges, where prices increased by 8.9% between November and December.

According to the Florida Department of State, citrus fruits have been a major economic industry in Florida since before it became part of the United States. Citrus plants were first grown commercially in Florida in the 1500s. By the mid-1870s, FDOS said the citrus industry had boomed in the state, causing entrepreneurs to “flow” into Florida. to grow citrus fruits. The boom continued for family groves until 1960, when groves were consolidated and citrus grew from “family farming” to “large-scale agribusiness”.

In modern times, Florida produces a slim majority of American citrus.

Due to the important role oranges play in the state’s economy, Florida has named oranges as the state’s official fruit, orange juice as the state’s drink, and even orange blossoms. as the state flower. Visitors and newcomers to the Sunshine State are offered orange juice at welcome centers and see signs for popular products on highways throughout the state.

The Sunshine State produced about 51% of the nation’s oranges in the 2020-21 season, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s citrus forecast. These oranges are used in everything from orange juice to marmalade, or simply for snacks. The country’s orange harvest peaks at 103,950,000 in total. Texas and California produce most of the portion that Florida does not cover.

The USDA reported that all Florida orange production was down 3% as of Jan. 12. The decline in production comes as demand increases, adding to inflationary pressures. This is driving up the prices of oranges, on top of the supply chain and distribution issues seen across industries due to driver shortages and rising fuel costs.

The latest USDA citrus forecast predicts an even smaller harvest of orange boxes for January. December held 46,000,000 boxes of oranges in Florida. January is only expected to have 44,500,000. In the 2020 to 2021 season, the USDA reported that Florida grew 52,800,000 boxes of oranges in total. The season generally runs from October to July.

Central Florida, Polk, Highlands and Osceola counties, has the second largest volume of orange groves in Florida, with 120,763 acres in 2020. West Florida, consisting of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee counties , Sarasota, Hardee and DeSoto, is the highest-volume region, with 123,950 acres in 2020. That said, the USDA reported that the number of acres for growth statewide has declined in what concerns the cultivation of oranges and grapefruits, products that Florida does more than any other state.

The 2021 to 2022 growing season will continue through July, but with a continued downward forecast and fewer acres of groves, continued inflation makes it unclear what Florida growers and consumers are expected to expect. ‘expect.