Who thought the day would come when a glass of orange juice wasn’t a part of a well-balanced breakfast? Alas, that day may be closer than we thought. According to a new estimate from the USDA, this year’s orange harvest is going to be about 14 percent smaller than it was in 2015. And that's not the only thing, harvests have been declining for several years; the 70 million boxes of oranges anticipated as a result of this year’s harvest means the projected yield will be a fraction – about 30 percent – of what was being harvested just 15 years ago.
Why so Little Juice?
On the one hand, the lagging harvest is a result of weather. This has been one of the worst hurricane seasons in recent years, so a lot of the orange trees in Florida, the primary growing location for oranges for juice, have suffered dramatically.
Beyond hurricane damage there’s disease, which is causing widespread destruction of orange trees throughout Florida. The spread of a bacterium that causes huanglongbing or citrus greening, which was first recorded in southern Florida back in 2005 and has been spread by insects ever since, has wiped out trees across the state. More than $100 million has been spent to work out ways to stop the disease, so far with no concrete results.
What does it mean for we orange juice drinkers?
1) There is less orange juice available to drink.
2) The price of the orange juice available has almost doubled over the past year.
3) Desperate farmers and major orange juice producers are resorting to orange juice “blends” rather than straight OJ.
While we wait to see just how spot on the USDA’s estimates for this year’s harvest are and what that will mean for our juice glasses moving forward, it might be a good idea to brainstorm some alternate breakfast drinks. Who's for a green juice?