Growers are seeing $2 more per box of oranges, an increase they have not seen in the last decade
EXETER – California’s most popular citrus variety is a favorite of growers this year after fetching its highest price in nearly 10 years.
Navel oranges, known for their juiciness and a staple for cocktails, salads, salsas and desserts, are selling more than 40% higher than the average for the last nine years, according to California Citrus Mutual, the Exeter-based advocacy and marketing organization representing a third of California’s citrus farmers. The popular 48 sized orange, one of the largest sizes, is fetching an average of $19.50 per carton this season compared to $16.50 in 02/21 and just $11.75 in 19/20. A carton of oranges holds about 40 pounds depending on the size of the fruit.
The industry average price across all grades and sizes is holding steady at just under $18. The average free-on-board (FOB) price, an industry term for transportation of fruit, for each size is $2 (or more) higher than last season.
Movement is excellent and shippers are optimistic that prices will continue to climb in these final months of the season. California Citrus Mutual estimates more than 70% of the crop has been harvested. Shippers report under-picking estimates and most expect to finish picking in June, if not before.
The quality of the citrus is also excellent. More than 80% of the fruit is marketable, with three quarters of the crop unblemished, known as “fancy” fruit, and just a quarter of the crop with some skin blemishes, known as “choice” fruit, which are harder to sell. Sizes are peaking on medium (72), large (88), and extra large (56) sized navels.