Is There an Orange Shortage? Signs—and Prices—Point to Yes

Noticing a spike in the price of oranges? You’re not imagining things: A major orange shortage is leading to higher prices for the citrus.

Food inflation is nothing new. In fact, we’ve spent the better part of this past year purchasing $11 lettuce and $7 egg cartons. And while there is a glimmer of hope out there—avocados, chicken, bacon, and other favorites have dipped in price as of late—oranges are not a part of that economic equation. The fruit is skyrocketing in price, and it looks like there’s another shortage to blame.

What’s Driving the Orange Shortage

Much like the whole lettuce debacle, the orange shortage is the result of a difficult crop season—specifically, because of a fatal and incurable disease that is wiping out orange, lemon, and lime trees. The disease, also known as Huanglongbing, HLB, or “citrus greening,” has reportedly halved Florida’s orange supply over the past decade, and in recent years, the state has had its smallest orange crop in decades.

While California has stepped up its own orange production—the state is even projected to surpass Florida in production of all oranges in the 2022-2023 season, per USDA data—the Golden State is suffering from its own crisis now. An insect called Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri Kuwayama) can infect citrus trees with a bacteria that causes HLB, and these bugs have brought the deadly plant disease to California. Double oof.

Long story short: We’re in the midst of an orange shortage, people.

Orange fruit in Grocery Store.
Maria Korneeva / Getty Images

Increasing Orange Supply

According to Matt Joyner, the CEO of the Florida Citrus Mutual trade association who spoke with Axios on the subject, “It’s a five-year process to get trees back up and productive.”

The orange crop similarly suffered in 2017 as a result of Hurricane Irma. Just as we hit the five-year mark following that disaster, the deadly HLB disease began sweeping Florida—and later California.

As Joyner points out, the shortage is nothing new. In fact, the orange supply began shrinking in early 2022, before the entire country was walloped with a price increase later that year. Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole only made matters worse, uprooting additional trees in their paths.

How the Orange Shortage Is Affecting Orange Prices

Supply just can’t keep up with the demand, and as a result, suppliers are spiking prices—adding to your already hefty grocery bill. The Wall Street Journal reports that not-from-concentrate orange juice now costs $10 a gallon, which is up 20% from 2016 alone. Even reconstituted juice has averaged $6.27 a gallon.

What’s Next for Oranges

Joyner told Axios that, despite the current supply crisis, there is hope yet for the industry. “Within the last 12 months, we’ve started to see some real breakthroughs in therapies that have very strong potential to … turn this decreasing production trend around,” he said.

So while it might be a few more months before you can afford mimosas again, at least (hopefully?) we won’t have to wait another five years to see improvements for the orange crop. In the meantime, you may want to cut back on eating oranges in the shower to save a few bucks, or even consider growing your own citrus trees to help keep your citrus consumption up without spending a fortune.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles