FROM THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
Florida’s citrus growers anticipate the largest planting of orange trees in a quarter century because of a soft drink company.
The Coca-Cola Company is going to buy $2 billion worth of oranges to supply its Simply and Minute Maid juice brands, a purchase that will allow growers teamed with Cutrale Citrus Juices and Peace River Citrus Products to plant 25,000 acres of orange trees across Central Florida.
The announcement from the Atlanta-based soft drink giant, which already employs 6,100 people at 26 facilities in Florida, is expected to create 4,100 jobs over the next 25 years, according to the Florida Department of Citrus.
“Coca-Cola’s commitment to purchase all of the fruit from the new groves enables us to play a role in helping restore Florida’s citrus industry with the largest planting of orange trees in 25 years,” Cutrale Citrus Juices CEO Jose Luis Cutrale said in a release.
The citrus industry has struggled for years as it has lost land to growth and the diseases greening and canker. From 2004 to 2012, the state’s citrus industry acreage has dropped 28 percent, according to numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The announcement was made at Coca-Cola’s recently expanded Auburndale facility, which produces Simply juices.