LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) -- An anticipated small crop of Florida oranges could squeeze the world's juice supply by 7 percent this year, pushing U.S. retail prices up by as much as 50 cents a gallon.
A state economist told the Florida Citrus Commission on Wednesday that U.S. orange juice companies may need to import 21 percent more juice to compensate for the state's hurricane-induced shortage.
The anticipated shortfall and low production during the two previous seasons -- also because of hurricanes -- have prompted juice suppliers such as PepsiCo Inc.'s Tropicana Products and The Coca-Cola Co.'s Minute Maid to boost prices.
"We've had some major changes in these last three years," said Mark G. Brown of the Florida Economic and Market Research Department.
In the U.S., retail orange juice prices could climb as high as 4.10 a gallon this year for frozen concentrate (up from 3.46 last year), Brown said.
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