Florida, the largest citrus-growing state in the nation, will harvest less than three-fourths as many oranges as last year because of damage from Hurricane Irma, said the USDA. In its monthly crop report, the agency estimated orange production at 50 million boxes, 9-percent less than it estimated a month ago and 27-percent less than the 2016/17 crop of 68.75 million boxes.
Florida was on track for its first increase in orange production in five years until Hurricane Irma pounded the state last month with the crop nearly ready for harvest. USDA's Agricultural Statistics Board, in a rare statement, said the crop could have been 75.5 million boxes based on its survey work before the hurricane, instead of the 54 million boxes forecast afterward, the smallest crop since 1947.
Brazil is the Goliath of orange juice, producing half of the juice in the world, says Quartz, so a worldwide slowdown in consumption is a big problem. Orange production is down sharply to 242 million boxes last year, compared to 400 million in 2014.
Global consumption of orange juice will drop by 2 percent this year, part of an overall 15 percent decline in four years, says USDA. The semiannual "Citrus: World Markets and Trade" report says U.S. consumption will drop by 7 percent, reflecting the impact of citrus greening disease on orange groves in Florida, the largest citrus state.