Orange Juice Decline Continues as Crop Threat Recedes

By Julie Wernau Features Dow Jones Newswires

Orange juice futures were on track to close at their lowest levels in nearly a year and a half Wednesday as hurricane threats in the Atlantic have posed little danger to developing oranges, which will potentially boost supplies.

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Frozen concentrated orange juice for September delivery lost 1.1% to $1.2535 a pound on the ICE Futures U.S. exchange, on track for their lowest close since March 11, 2016.

"There are some storms starting to form, but so far these are not forecast to hit the state and are still quite some time from hitting any land mass," said Jack Scoville, vice president of Price Futures Group in Chicago.

Typically this time of year, the market makes long bets in the tiny frozen-concentrated orange juice market on the idea that hurricanes could impact Florida, home to most of the oranges used in U.S. juice. But the market is now grappling with the increasing irrelevance of Florida to the market as an incurable disease there has devastated groves, which are now producing the fewest oranges since 1963.

Meanwhile, Brazil, the world's largest grower, has stepped up production. Brazilian fresh orange production is forecast at 471 million boxes, up from 352 million in 2016-17 and the highest total since 2012-13. About 340 million of these boxes will be sent to local processors for crushing into orange juice, compared with 222 million last season, according to J. Ganes Consulting LLC.

In other markets, raw sugar for October rose 2.2% to 14.41 cents a pound, cocoa for September was up 1.8% at $1,946 a ton, arabica coffee for September edged up 0.2% at $1.352 a pound and December cotton lost 0.5% at 67.85 cents a pound.

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Write to Julie Wernau at julie.wernau@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 19, 2017 11:56 ET (15:56 GMT)