Why Orange Juice Prices May Soon Increase

The long upward march of food inflation continues, and it looks like orange juice prices may be the next thing to put a dent in your budget. Persistent supply-chain issues have driven up the cost of everything from grain to meat, forcing Americans to cut back the amount of food they buy and switch to lower-cost brands. Now the same price pain that came for your omelets and bacon is coming for your mimosas too.

Orange juice has already been subject to increasing prices since earlier this year, when a pandemic-induced increase in demand for vitamin C products ran into decreased orange supplies from a poor harvest. According to Axios, U.S. orange production last year was 81.7 million boxes, down from a pre-pandemic high of 122.8 million, with a particularly big drop in Florida. Now a new disaster has struck that could further drive down the already depleted stock of juice oranges — and interfere with any plans you had to use citrus this winter.

Hurricane Ian devastated Florida's citrus groves

Those already-sad orange production numbers in Florida are likely to drop to record-low levels due to the fallout from Hurricane Ian (via NBC News). The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts a drop of more than 30% in Florida's orange harvest, driving it to the lowest levels since 1943. According to Bloomberg, the full impact of the hurricane has yet to be assessed, as that estimate was made before Ian made landfall. Almost 375,000 acres of citrus crops were affected by Hurricane Ian, according to the University of Florida. This has contributed to a price spike that has orange juice at $2.90 per 12-ounce can — and is likely to go even higher.

Sadly, hurricanes are not the only natural disaster that has Florida orange growers worried and juice prices jumping. Orange output in the Sunshine State has been dropping for years due to citrus greening disease. According to the Associated Press, the plague can cause oranges to fall off trees and even kill trees entirely, a situation that has caused California to pass Florida as the nation's top orange producer for the first time in years. So while hurricanes may be an occasional disaster that can drive up prices, the cost of orange juice could stay high for the foreseeable future.