OJ prices could increase

A month-like insect is affecting crops


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The price for that morning glass of orange juice could soon be going up. Experts predict Florida's orange crop will shrink to a 52-year-low. The price increase may not only impact you at the grocery store, but it may also impact jobs.

There's no word right now on how much those prices could be impacted. A financial expert says trees are producing far fewer oranges because of disease.

People at the Jacksonville Farmer's Market in Riverside aren't happy to hear about the possible increase in the price of oranges and orange juice.

"Our children need it and they're pricing the things for our children to have like milk- you can't afford to buy, said Grandmother Barbara McKendree who knows about providing for children.

The assistant general manager of the Farmer's Market, Mitch James, citrus becomes a very important fruit for vendors at the market in October.

"But every year - it's a little bit less," said James.

He says a small moth-like insect that came to the United States in the past ten years is causing the problem. James says the insects are going from tree-to-tree spreading the disease.

"So many of the fields have just been erased - just completely plowed under," said James.

Last year's Florida orange crop produced 96-point-7 million boxes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts there will be 80-million boxes this year, creating a drop of more than 17-percent.

Financial Expert Joe Krier says fewer oranges mean fewer jobs.

"Eventually there are going to have to be some adjustments there. If the companies are making less money they're gonna have to lay people off," said Krier.

The Florida citrus industry employs about 62-THOUSAND people and creates a 10-point-7 billion dollar economy.

Krier says between the disease in Florida and the drought in California, prices could change significantly.

"If it keeps going this way, there's a point where prices could jump considerably.

The assistant general manager of the farmer's market says it may be too soon to tell how badly the oranges will be impacted by the disease. He says growers will have a much better idea of how the disease will impact oranges in about six weeks.

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