NEW YORK - Orange juice prices at the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) rose more than 3% on Wednesday, heading back toward an all-time high hit earlier this month, as storm Idalia slammed parts of main U.S. orange producer Florida.
Contracts for frozen concentrated orange juice (FCOJ) at ICE hit a high of $3.2920 per pound during the session, the second highest price ever, just shy of the record of $3.3175 per pound seen on August 17.
Florida's orange crop this year was already on the way to being small, only around half the size it produced just two years ago, due to diseases and erratic weather. The hurricane will exacerbate the situation.
"There is little hope for a bigger crop next year," said commodities analyst Judith Ganes.
Fields in Florida were still recovering from the impact of hurricane Ian in 2019, while also suffering from a bacterial disease known as greening.
Authorities in Florida have yet to evaluate damage to infrastructure and agricultural production as the storm moved over to Georgia.
Also on Wednesday, Brazilian industry group CitrusBR said in a statement that stocks of orange juice at the end of the 2022/23 season (July-June) fell 40% to 84,745 metric tons, the lowest level since the group started to collect the data 12 years ago.
CitrusBR said the fall is a result of a smaller-than-expected crop in the world's largest orange juice producer and exporter, as well as falling juice yields from the fruits.
(Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by David Gregorio)