Orange Juice Is Now A Luxury Item

Pulp or no pulp, it’s getting pricey to enjoy a glass of juice.

If you enjoy a glass of orange juice on the side of your breakfast, mixed with a little champagne, or even in your cereal (Lord help you), you might want to start cutting back soon. The Wall Street Journal reports orange juice prices are on the rise due to bad citrus crops.

The bad crops were already taking their toll on orange juice last year, as evidenced by Disney World's decision to raise prices on its juice. The Associated Press reported in early 2022 that Florida, a major producer of citrus fruit, was on track to have its worst orange crop in over 75 years (so it turns out Disney wasn't just being greedy). Now, the effects are rippling outward into the grocery aisle.

What’s happening to Florida’s oranges? 

In January, The Wall Street Journal reported Florida citrus farmers would be harvesting their worst crop in almost a century: a yield of just 18 million 90-pound boxes of oranges, or less than half of the previous year's yield. To make matters worse, the Agriculture Department said the fruit itself is small—meaning it takes more oranges to fill a box and to get the same amount of juice.


The minimal and undersized oranges are a result of greening disease and other environmental factors. Greening disease is spread by Asian citrus psyllids, tiny insects that spread the disease when they suck sap from trees. The bacterial disease is incurable; it spreads from the leaves throughout the tree blocking nutrients and water like a clogged artery, leading to unripe and bitter fruit that can't be used to make juice.

"There probably isn't a tree that's not infected with greening," citrus farmer Steve Johnson told The Wall Street Journal. Johnson also said many farmers have chosen to leave the industry by growing other fruits or raising cattle.

The rising price of citrus fruit

In addition to the spread of greening, orange crops in Florida have also had to face flooding and wind damage from two hurricanes in late summer and fall of 2022 and freezing conditions which damaged budding trees at the start of that year. Although orange production in the Sunshine State has improved, it's still down 50% from two years ago, and experts only expect prices to continue increasing.


All of this has led to a gallon of orange juice reaching an average price of $9.18 during the four-week period ending October 7, a more than 10% increase from the same time last year, per data from the Florida Department of Citrus and market research firm Nielsen.

Although not all of the nation's orange juice comes from Florida oranges, the issue of greening disease is also affecting imports from Brazil, making juice production even more scarce. Maybe it's time to opt for straight-up champagne at brunch?