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Large FCOJ inventory should hold down orange juice price


Friday October 03 2008


THE USA's orange juice inventory remains worryingly high, despite greatly reduced production since the hurricanes of 2004, coupled with steep reductions in the bearing acreage and the number of bearing trees.

For the season to date (to the end of August; the latest data available), Florida orange juice movement was down by 5.4% while the pack from fruit was up by 36% and inventories were up nearly 63%.

What is more, Florida's beginning inventory is forecast to soar for the 2008/09 season to 857 million gallons (single strength equivalent, or SSE).

At the same time, US retail sales for the whole season are forecast to be 4.6% down by volume at 530.4 million gallons (2006/07 season: 556.1 million gallons), due at least partly to an average price increase over the season of 4.2%.

In contrast, Brazil has enjoyed historically low starting inventories for this season and last, and while Brazil's carry-over is also forecast to rise steeply for the new season, it will nevertheless remain vastly smaller than Florida's.

For week 48 of the current 2007/08 season, Florida's orange juice availability is at about 1.70 billion gallons, a rise of well over 14% from the 1.48 billion gallons recorded in week 48 last season.

The Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) estimates that the full season availability will end at 1.71 billion gallons, or more than 15% above last season's 1.48 billion gallons. This will inevitably have an effect on international prices, especially when coupled with Brazil's forecast carry-over of 215 million gallons.

Florida's 13-week carry-over stands at 35.0 million gallons, more than 63% up from 21.4 million gallons last season, and the three-year carry-over figure shows a nearly identical percentage increase for a total of 30.7 million gallons (18.8 million gallons).

By way of contrast, the US has seen a steep rise in imports of NFC orange juice: up by 73% for the season to date, at 48.1 million gallons.

Futures have also been weak of late, despite the occasional spike on the threat of hurricanes (that failed to hit Florida). The November contract has dipped to US$0.8690/lb solid, a price which a FOODNEWS contact described as "appallingly weak".

Current prices

FCOJ physical prices remain at around US$1 750-1 800/tonne c&f duty unpaid Rotterdam, and the consensus among industry insiders is that this price is unlikely to move much either way. Production may be down, but so is demand.

Brazil's NFC orange pricing is something of a conundrum. Prices are around US$650/ tonne, "but nobody is really offering at the moment, " said a source. "Everything is very quiet. We are wondering whether Cutrale may use SIAL as a platform to announce its new season NFC price, in the way they used to announce their FCOJ pricing."

Florida grapefruit juice presents a slightly brighter picture. The season's carry-over is down by 10% to 38.7 weeks' supply from 43.2 weeks' supply last season, although the 13-week figure is up by 16% to 42.3 weeks' supply (36.4 weeks).

US retail sales for the season are predicted to show an increase of nearly 10% to 18.6 million gallons.

As for pricing and exports, much will depend on the final assessment of the damage done to the Cuban crop by Hurricane Gustav

 (FOODNEWS 19 September).


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