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
Total US production of grapefruit in 2020/21 is forecast by the USDA at 13.2 million boxes, slightly up on 2019/20. As the table illustrates, production is dominated by Florida, Texas and California with almost equal shares. Citrus greening continues to be a major problem and unless some solution is found supply is unlikely to increase substantially. Approximately 30% is processed into juice, peel and oil, but increased demand for fresh grapefruit, in part because of COVID-19, has reduced the availability of grapefruit for processing. The limited availability of grapefruit oil is impacting prices, especially for white grapefruit oil. Prices are also affected by the oil’s nootkatone content and agricultural residue issues. The typical 0.2% nootkatone content oil is more difficult to find. Prices for some grapefruit oils are significantly lower than two years ago. If demand and supply remain at current low levels then prices are unlikely to return to the high levels seen over the past five years.
October saw the harvesting of the red grapefruit primarily for the fresh fruit market. White grapefruit supplies are tight and availability is limited, which will affect white grapefruit oils supplies. The USA’s total grapefruit crop is predicted to touch 13.20 million boxes with Florida contributing 4.50 million boxes (of which some 2.6 million boxes will be processed). The figure comprises 3.80 million boxes of red grapefruit and 0.7 million boxes of white grapefruit. While the total has recorded a plunge of 7% from last season, red grapefruit forecast is 6% less than last year’s final crop. The white grapefruit forecast is an 11% drop from last year’s figures. The average fruit per tree is also at an historic low since the 1968/69 season. In view of the inclement weather and hurricanes, fruit droppage is anticipated to be above average but it is hoped that this will be compensated by the fruit sizes which are expected to be above average. Prices of the oil hinge upon the presence of nootkatone content and the typical 0.2% nootkatone material is difficult to find.
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