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Hurricane Ian could push food prices even higher

Published: September 29, 2022 | Print Friendly and PDF

Source: cnn


Hurricane Ian is the latest natural disaster to impact food pricesThe storm hitting Florida is already forcing orange juice futures to rise, and it may soon squeeze the country’s fertilizer supply — which could have a far-reaching impact.

Prices for frozen concentrate orange juice contracts hit roughly $1.92 per pound earlier on Wednesday, an increase of more than 5% from Tuesday, before moderating slightly.

Florida is a leading citrus producer, including oranges and grapefruit. At least 75% of the Florida citrus belt is under threat of heavy flooding rains over the next 36 hours, according to satellite imagery provider Maxar Technologies.

Maxar’s WeatherDesk finds that at least a third of the groves are likely to see some wind damage, mostly in the northwestern portion of the citrus belt.

Orange juice futures are up almost 30% so far this year. And the timing of the storm is difficult for farmers in Florida as citrus crops are nearing harvest season.

“There will be quite a bit of fruit drop and losses of fruit from the trees,” Maxar said.

Citrus production was already under significant pressure even before Hurricane Ian.

In July, the US Department of Agriculture estimated US production of oranges would drop by 13% in 2021/2022 to the lowest level in 55 years because of the drought in California and citrus greening in Florida. Citrus greening is a disease that causes trees to produce less fruit that is smaller in size. As a result juice producers have to use more oranges per bottle, raising their costs and leading to price hikes for consumers.

Orange and tangerine prices spiked 14.4% for the year through August. The price of juice and other non-alcoholic drinks went up 13.1% in that period.


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