ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — As the price of oranges and orange juice are expected to increase in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Stateline shoppers are already paying more.
As of Oct. 17, the average price on medium navel oranges at local Meijer, Walmart, Schnucks, and Woodman’s stores was about $1.82 per pound, 9 cents higher than the national average of $1.73. In 2021, the average price across the country was $1.58.
The average price at local stores for a 4-pound bag of the same oranges is currently about $7.30.
Orange juice prices have also seen an increase in the last year. Stateline shoppers are paying an average of $6.81 for an 89-ounce jug of Tropicana juice, about 60 cents higher than they gave in 2021.
Experts say the good news is that so far, current prices are not driven by Ian, which nearly wiped out the Florida citrus industry. The bad news is there’s no telling just how high they will get once growers assess their damages and get back online.
Local shoppers say while they are bothered by current prices, they’re worried more about potential supply problems.
“Orange juice has always been a winter staple in the fridge to help fend off colds,” said Rockford resident Cheryl Kirschmann. “We’re never without a gallon in the fridge.”
Kischmann has no plans to cut back on oranges or juice, but she’s been doing something she’s not done in the past: scouring for coupons and sales flyers wherever she can.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the worst of this yet,” she said.
Catherine Rydberg is in the same situation. She’s not ready to sacrifice what’s important to her family and has chosen to weather the storm.
“I go to the store, shake my head and buy them,” she said. “Fresh food is so important that I’ll give up other things for that.”
Most of the orange juice made in the United States is manufactured from Florida oranges. Even before Ian hit, the USDA reported that orange growers would only ship about 28 million boxes of oranges in 2022-23 growing season. In 2021-22, the industry produced 41 billion boxes.
Some citrus growers are reporting losses of 80 to 100 percent at the hands of Hurricane Ian.