Trends in citrus availability in U.S. market point to shifting consumer interest

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Trends in citrus availability in U.S. market point to shifting consumer interest

Expanded fresh fruit options have influenced the availability of citrus fruits on the national market over time, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service (ERS).

The annual study that shows per capita supplies of fresh fruits for U.S. consumers demonstrated that 14% of all fruit supplies in 2018 were citrus. This number - especially relative to a few decades ago when in 1970 the same category made up a 24% share of fresh fruit supplies - is of note because it points to a bigger trend in citrus availability.

In the U.S. market, changes to citrus supplies year-to-year have in part been impacted by swings in weather events, diseases like citrus greening and fluctuations in import and export volumes.

Long term trends for citrus availability in the loss-adjusted per capita model that the USDA uses are also largely driven by changes in consumer demand. Both price and other factors contribute to consumers' interest in citrus.

For instance, from 1970 to 2018, loss-adjusted per capita availability of navel oranges fell by 51% even though the category among citrus was the most popular throughout this time period.

Grapefruit also saw it's per capita availability in the U.S. market fall by 84%.

In contrast, the availability of other citrus fruit, like limes that increased to 22 times that which it was in 1970, grew.

This increased demand for limes, lemons and tangerines drove a post-2007 increase in fresh citrus availability, detailed the ERS report.

In its historical series, the ERS calculates national food supplies in the market by combining domestic production figures, inventories and imports of those specific fruits and then subtracting exports and end-of-year inventories.

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