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    Orange juice shortage expected this summer

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    The UK is poised to face a significant orange juice shortage this summer due to broader crisis affecting global orange production.

    Andrew Opie, Director of Food & Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, told the Telegraph, “Orange crops in key producing regions have been impacted by extreme weather events including hurricanes and flooding, and most recently a citrus greening disease.”

    He added that British retailers “will take all necessary steps and work closely with their suppliers to minimise the impact on customers should the need arise.”

    Farmers in Brazil, the world’s largest producer of citrus fruits, have been plagued by the incurable disease which causes oranges to turn green, misshapen and bitter. They have been forced to harvest the fruit earlier than usual this year to prevent the blight from damaging it, leading to a smaller crop and a “disappointing” quality of oranges.

    In response, Brazilian producers are left with no choice but to limit their exports, sending commodity market prices for oranges soaring by an astonishing 130 per cent over the past year. Meanwhile, Spain, another key player in the orange market, has not been spared.

    The country faced record-high temperatures last year, further exacerbating the global supply crunch. As a result, global orange production for the 2023-24 season is projected to be down by 10 per cent compared to the five-year average. 

    Meanwhile, the price of orange juice has already begun to soar in Britain in recent months. An average litre of own label orange juice in Britain’s major supermarkets has risen by 31 per cent year on year to an average of £1.35 but, significantly, by 13 per cent since the beginning of this year alone.

    Andrew Gibb of Coldpress Juices and Gavin Partington of the British Soft Drinks Association, have described the situation as “unprecedented”. Their companies, like many others, are scrambling to find efficiencies and alternative sourcing strategies to mitigate the impact on consumers. 

    “Producers are trying to find efficiencies to help absorb and avoid passing significant price rises onto consumers but inevitably there has been some inflation on the product due to the chronic difficulties around obtaining oranges for juicing.

    “It should be noted that most other juice products are not seeing the same shortages of their constituent fruit,” he said.

    The Telegraph reported this month that clementines could be on the way out within the next 10 years as shoppers are choosing new seedless hybrid mandarins.

    Tesco is launching four new hybrid mandarins to appeal to British tastes. The seedless hybrids, which are a combination of mandarins, satsumas, oranges or even grapefruit, have become more popular with British consumers, who prefer sweeter fruit over their European counterparts.

    Fears of an orange juice shortage come after supermarket shelves were left empty last year, after bad weather in Morocco and Spain left importers struggling to find tomatoes and other fruit and vegetables.

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