After Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on Florida citrus crops last month, US beverage companies could be forced to start using larger amounts of less-sweet Brazilian orange juice in their blends to make up for output losses.
Brazil’s exports of orange juice to the US may increase by as much as 50% to 300,000 metric tonnes, meeting the needs for about half of American consumption, Ibiapaba Netto, executive director at the juice exporters’ association Citrus BR, said in a telephone interview.
The South American nation, the world’s largest orange juice producer and exporter, will collect a bumper crop this year after almost perfect weather conditions.
In addition to the hurricane damage, Florida groves are also suffering from citrus-greening disease. What’s worse, a new storm could bring more losses to the area. A tropical depression that could grow into a hurricane is forecast to strike the US Gulf Coast late Sunday.
The problems with Florida impact the whole industry because of the state’s iconic role in the orange juice world, Netto said.
“Americans’ habit of drinking orange juice is highly associated with Florida,” he said. “If Florida becomes a less important supplier, that’s another reason for consumers to drink less juice.”