Grapefruit oil is processed from the peel of the fruit and can come in a number of types determined by its colour. Red, white and pink varieties are available which are usually grouped as ‘white’ or ‘coloured’.
Grapefruit is an excellent source of vitamin C and other nutrients and phytochemicals and is often associated with healthy living and diets.
As a flavour it is highly acidic and contains grapefruit mercaptan (a sulphur terpene) giving both a sweet, tarty and sometime bitter taste, somewhat different to most other citrus fruits.
The citrus industry in Florida has been struggling with the serious disease Huanglongbing (HLB) or citrus greening. This bacterial disease causes green, misshapen and bitter-tasting fruit, and eventually kills the citrus tree.
Citrus greening disease (or Huanglongbing, abbreviated as HLB) is a disease common to citrus plants transmitted by insects. Historically it is more commonly found in China and Africa but was first discovered in Florida in 1998 in orange. It is a bacterium that can grow quicker in hot temperatures and will ultimately kill the plant/tree where the fruit is growing. In the mean time the plant/tree will bear multiple seasons of small fruits, many unsuitable for processing. There is no cure for greening so the disease is hard to control once a region is infected.
The table shows how HLB has damaged fruit output, which has in turn restricted the volumes available for processing, increasing prices in its path.
|Type / Season||2011/12||2012/13||2013/14||2014/15*|
|Coloured (1,000 boxes)||13,500||13,100||11,500||11,000|
|White (1,000 boxes)||5,350||5,250||4,150||4,000|
*2014/15 Forecasts as at April 2015
The issues arising from years of decline due to citrus greening continue to remain the same. Hurricane Irma blew immature fruit off the trees, continuing to put additional pressure on an already fragile market. Total grapefruit production in the early season of 2017/2018 was forecast at 4.65 million boxes, of which, 3.8 million were red fruit and 0.85 million were white fruit. As per USDA report, the production is projected to drop more than 20% to 481,000 tons, reflecting losses mostly in Florida. As greening continues it adversely affects production, as very little fruit is available for processing, export or domestic consumption. Reduced availability of fruit for processing has sent oil prices spiraling out of control in recent months. Estimates of fruit size and droppage rates have been finalised with larger than average size for both whites and reds, and significant droppage. January month end row count surveys show 71% of white and 62% of red grapefruit has been harvested.
The impact of hurricane Irma will be felt for at least three to four years due to flooding in the groves. Tree roots have suffered in standing water, which has caused root rot with many trees dead or dying, at which time growers will face the decision of whether to replant grapefruit trees at a time when the juice market continues to decline year-on-year.
In conclusion, since Florida remains the largest supplier of grapefruit oil to the world, 60% to 65% of that total production goes to Japan: it means there is going to be very little supply of oil available in the spot market.
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