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Orange Juice Slides on Reports of Solution to Citrus Greening

December 6, 2016 at 18:08 by Andrew Moran

Orange juice futures tumbled on Tuesday on reports that there may be a solution on the way to save Florida’s oranges. Due to a terrible disease that has wreaked havoc against the world’s second-largest orange harvest, orange juice futures have surged throughout 2016 because of weakened supplies.

January frozen concentrated orange juice futures tumbled 1.85% to $2.16 per pound at 16:41 GMT on Tuesday on the ICE Futures exchange. Orange juice futures are trading at their lowest levels since October 31. They are beginning to regain their momentum as orange juice prices have climbed about 5% since mid-November. Orange juice futures had been suffering massive declines in the first half of November soon after they hit an all-time high of just under $2.30 a pound.

Year-to-date, orange juice prices have skyrocketed 50% on weakened orange supplies.

Traders were selling on Tuesday as a new report suggested that scientists may have discovered a solution to citrus greening, which has devastated Florida’s orange harvest. Citrus greening is a bacterial disease that causes fruit to drop before they are ripe enough to be picked. Because of this disease, Florida has produced its worst harvest in 50 years and has seen its supplies shrink.

According to Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center, researchers may have been successful in developing tougher varieties of citrus. This process is helping find a cure for citrus greening, and may also contribute to Florida gaining some market share with the likes of Spain and California when it comes to clementines.

Michael Rogers, the director at the Center of Lake Alfred at the University of Florida, is optimistic about Florida’s orange industry.

Back in 2005, when the disease first showed up in Florida, we all said … ‘this is a death sentence. In ten years, the industry will be gone.’ Well, we’re not gone. We’re going to hang on and we’re going to keep going. And it’s because of the small increments we’ve made in the short-term research.

The next step that Florida’s researchers need to take is finding a cure for slumping orange juice sales. For the last few years, consumers have started to shun the classic breakfast staple over health concerns. Experts note that the high amounts of sugar content are prompting consumers to seek out healthier beverage alternatives, particularly sparkling water, which has seen its sales surged 10% year-over-year since 2010.

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