Orange juice price rises as supplies squeezed

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The Independent Online
THE PRICE of orange juice is set to rise by 10 per cent, it was claimed yesterday. Again the blame lies with El Nino.

Bad weather has decimated the Florida orange crop. In the US, the fruit juice company Tropicana announced a 10 per cent rise in prices after the Department of Agriculture forecast that this year's crop will be 22 per cent lower than last year.

"No American will get in his car without his OJ," said Chris Burton of the Fruit Juice Importers' Association, and so the oranges will have to be found from somewhere. The Americans will turn to Brazil, which supplies most of the world.

The British drink a paltry amount of orange juice - 15 litres per person per year (900m litres in total) compared with double that by the Americans, although the British intake has doubled in the last decade alone. The business is now worth pounds 1bn annually, said the British Soft Drinks Association, and 80 per cent of the fruit juices we drink are orange, mainly long- life.

The Germans also drink roughly double the UK total, so Brazil will expected to make up the shortfall. "As a result there will be a shortage and reduction in supply over the next 12 months," said Mr Burton. "Orange juice has been terribly cheap in the last 18 months because of record crops, but that sadly will no longer be the case. One should expect about a 10 per cent increase."

"The brand owners are the supermarkets and so it will be up to them if they choose to increase prices for consumers," said a BSDA spokeswoman.She said that the orange juice companies "would be affected financially ... although we cannot give a definitive statement on what they are going to do".

For orange juice lovers, Mr Burton has even grimmer news though. "In recent years there have been a lot of problems in Brazil with the farming industry and diseases ... and the weather has been extremely funny all over. If there is a freeze in Florida this winter it will damage the crop even more."