Aussie orange juice shortage fears
Australians may not have access to fresh orange juice for breakfast in as little as five years if major retailers don't increase prices paid to growers.
Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock said prices paid for fresh juice by supermarkets to juice companies does not reflect the seasonal environmental impacts of the drought on the 2019-20 crop of Valencia oranges.
Shortages are expected in coming months, with crops already down by 45 per cent.
Mr Hancock told News Corp many growers have stopped planting Valencia oranges - grown as juice fruit - as it has become unprofitable.
He said the Riverina agricultural region of southwestern NSW was the most heavily affected area after a long period of dry conditions.
"The juice growing industry is under immense pressure and Australian consumers may not have access to fresh Australian orange juice in as little as five years," he said.
"We want Australians to have the opportunity to drink Australian orange juice from Australian Valencia oranges into the future.
"The only thing that can encourage that is a fair price."
Mr Hancock said for at least a decade, growers have been paid $260 per tonne.
But now, they are pushing for them to be paid between $420 up to $450 per tonne over a year.
"We think that amount would make it profitable enough for growers to consider going back to replant the Valencia juice fruit variety," he said.
He said the cost of watering trees that grow juice fruits were turning growers away, which are around $1000 a megalitre.
Mr Hancock said he believed the current retail structure would enable prices of orange juice on the supermarket shelf to remain steady even if the return to the grower was increased.
"We implore our major retailers to recognise the impact seasonal conditions are having on our growers and to lift their prices accordingly," he said.
Woolworths told News Corp they were aware of conditions that have been challenging for some orange growers due to the drought and recent flooding.
"We're working with our suppliers to understand what impact this might have and how we can help ensure our customers continue to have access to quality juices at affordable prices," a spokesman said.
Coles also confirmed they were working with their suppliers to support them.
ALDI also said they support suppliers taking into account challenges the market may be facing at any given time including surplus stock, shortages and cost pressures.
Lion Dairy & Drinks, which produces popular juice brands including Berri, Daily Juice Company, Mildura and Just Juice told News Corp it was proud to offer its orange grower partners in NSW contracts with competitive pricing that support long-term sustainability.
"In 2018, we launched the Lion Orchard Pride program - which is a unique sustainability program that offers our orange grower partners ways to measure, evaluate and improve key areas of sustainability on their orchard," a spokeswoman said.