Florida Citrus Packers recently called for a fix to a so-called “patch” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that allegedly creates unfair advantages for Mexico and other countries over domestic grapefruit producers. Citrus Industry previously reported that the agriculture commissioners for Florida and Texas wrote letters protesting the USDA action.
Florida Citrus Packers Executive Vice President Peter Chaires addresses the issue, along with other problems facing grapefruit shippers, in the following statement:
Florida grapefruit shippers have been decimated by citrus canker, hurricanes and HLB. Added to this year’s list of calamities is a transportation crisis impacting exports, with container shortages, drastically escalated costs and port delays.
As unfortunate as the 2021 freeze was to our Texas counterparts, it ironically presented an opportunity to move more Florida grapefruit in domestic channels until the transportation crisis could be resolved. The domestic grapefruit market was suddenly a savior. This also came at a time when grapefruit demand was on the rise. Nobody could have predicted a proactive action on the part of USDA to effectively suspend the application of juice content standards on imported grapefruit. Juice content is a key component of grapefruit quality.
At this very time, domestic producers have acceptable Brix and acid in their fruit, but are postponing harvesting and shipping until the fruit meets the juice content standards. Such standards ensure a quality piece of fruit and a positive eating experience that will support consumer confidence and encourage repeat purchases. Unfortunately, these standards are only being applied to domestic producers but not imports.
The impact of this has been an exponential increase in low-quality, low-cost grapefruit flooding across the Mexican border. Midwest markets were the first to be impacted, and ….
Ernie Neff reports on comments from Florida Citrus Packers: Fix Grapefruit Import Action Now on the Citrus industry website.