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 here are nothing new after years of decline due to citrus greening. What is new is the continuing assessments post Hurricane Irma, which continue to mount pressure on an already fragile market.
The final 2016/17 season finished well below earlier season forecasts at 7.8 million boxes (1.5 million Red and 6.3 million White) down over 35% on the previous year, which itself was down 25% on 2014/15 – you see the pattern? Then just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse this season kicked off with a major hurricane decimating trees and sending almost ripe fruits dropping to the floor.
Many criticised the first official USDA assessment, as it seemed to understate the magnitude of the disaster – especially for grapefruit. In October it stated that there will be a 37% decline in production when many farmers had said at least the number should 50%, some said as much as 70%! As it also went on to say there would be a 53% droppage you got the sense that lower forecasts were soon to come. In November the USDA suggested a further 5% decline in output and in December (12th) maintained its forecast at these levels, the worst production forecasts since the 1918-19 season.
In many respects the actual numbers are irrelevant, the truth comes from what the reality is on the ground and there is simply very little fruit available and hardly anything for processing. This has sent prices spiralling out of control in recent months with many end users scrambling around to secure oil.
So if the 2016/17 campaign was the worst since the 1930s, this current campaign could set whole new records and not for the right reasons! Do not expect any improvements.
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