Production of this tangy fruit hasn't been this low since the 1940s.
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fresh squeezed orange juice
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Oranges are delicious, tangy, and versatile fruits that are widely available throughout the year in traditional supermarkets and beloved by families across the country. The tangy citrus fruit can hold its own as a juice or it can complement other ingredients in a dish, like in our Orange and Parsley Salad or Salmon with Fennel, Bell Pepper, and Olives. But if you love oranges, it might be a tough year for you, as the the fruit is in low supply. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Florida is producing the lowest amount of oranges since the 1940s. On average, the state ships out over 240 million 90-pound boxes of the fruit each year. This year, Florida is estimated to yield 44.5 million boxes.

What's the reason behind the shortage? Citrus greening, a bacterial infection caused by insects, is apparently running rampant—and it cannot be stopped. While infected trees can still grow oranges, they produce small, bitter fruit instead of large, sweet varieties. Plus, according to the Washington Post, the amount of orange trees are dropping overall because of boosts in land used for other developments and decreases in growers. Back in 2006, there were over 36 million Valencia orange trees. Today, about 30 million of the trees are around.

Oranges are fruitful elsewhere in the United States. California is producing 47 million boxes of oranges this year. Since these oranges aren't used for juice, there could be a spike in orange juice prices as a result. Before the pandemic, the "U.S. demand for orange juice had been down for 20 years straight," Shawn Hackett, president of Hackett Financial Advisors, told CNN. Health played a part in this change: People didn't consume as much orange juice because of the sugar and calorie content and more consumers got fast-food meals rather than items from their refrigerators in the morning.

Based on the changes, the United States' sales of 100 percent non-concentrated juices increased from $5 billion to $5.5 billion in 2020, and the trend continued into 2021, according to Euromonitor International. "We're still dealing with demand today that's well above what it was in 2019, before the pandemic hit," Hackett said. "So we have this renewed demand at a time that are available supplies are way, way down."

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