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The prices for Frozen Concentrate Orange Juice (FCOJ) Equivalent rose high at ICE Futures in the first fortnight of April, reflecting the current low world supply, majorly in Brazil and in Florida (USA). Between April 1st and 13, the May/22 contract for orange juice increased by 20 %, and in 2022, by more than 30 %, closing at USD 2,650/ton on April 13.

Indeed, orange production (and juice production) in the Brazilian citrus belt (São Paulo State and the Triângulo Mineiro) decreased in the 2021/22 crop, which is practically over. According to a report released by Fundecitrus in the first half of April, the Brazilian citrus belt is expected to harvest 262.97 million boxes (40.8-kilograms) of oranges, 10.6 % down from the first estimates (May/21) and 2.2 % lower than that in the previous season.

This context will influence the Brazilian supply of orange juice, since the citrus belt is the major orange-producing region in Brazil. In February, Citrus BR estimated that, by the end of the season (in June 2022), the national stocks of orange juice (forecast at 127 thousand tons) will not be enough to ensure the world supply until the new crop (2022/23) steps up.

The same scenario is observed in Florida, where production estimates were revised down by the USDA by 19 % compared to the expected in Oct/21, to 38.2 million boxes, 28 % lower than that last season.

Lower production in the current and in previous seasons is reflecting on local stocks. According to the Florida Department of Citrus, from the beginning of the 2021/22 crop, in Oct/21, to March 26, 2022, the stocks of FCOJ were 31 % lower than that in the same period of the previous season. For not-from-concentrate orange juice, stocks were 25 % lower.

In this context, although the United States did not increase imports of concentrated orange juice – which decreased by 4.6 % between Oct/21 and Jan/22, according to the Florida Department of Citrus –, they increased purchases of not-from-concentrate orange juice. Brazil supplied 85 % of all the not-from-concentrate orange juice and 71 % of the FCOJ imported by the USA.

These estimates for Brazil and the USA explain the recent valuations of orange juice at ICE Futures. In both countries, supply is not expected to recover in the coming season (2022/23).

In the Brazilian citrus belt, although orange production may increase slightly, a higher harvest would not be enough to raise stocks and ensure world supply, since the current volume stocked is very low. In Florida, with the high incidence of greening on orchards (which has been lowering the average productivity of orange trees) and the smaller area with orange orchards in the state in the last years, production is not expected to return to the levels observed in previous decades.