Make us your home page
Instagram

Coke assigns $2B for orange groves

AUBURNDALE — The Coca-Cola Co. said Tuesday that it is spending $2 billion to support the planting of 25,000 acres of new orange groves in Florida, a move officials are lauding as a major investment in the Sunshine State's citrus industry.

The announcement was made at a news conference at Coca-Cola's juice production plant in Auburndale.

Coca-Cola will buy fruit from two growers: Peace River Citrus Products in Vero Beach and Cutrale Citrus, one of Brazil's top growers and juice processors.

Cutrale Citrus' entrance to Florida as a grower is significant, said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

"The fact that one of the dominant Brazilian players will now have an ownership stake in actual production in Florida is a tremendous development," Putnam said.

Coca-Cola owns the Minute Maid and Simply juice brands and already buys juice from Cutrale in Brazil. Coca-Cola is also a significant juice processor in Florida — Tuesday's news conference was held at the largest juice bottling plant in the United States.

Some 5 million trees will be planted in the new groves, believed to be the largest citrus addition in the state in at least 25 years. The groves will be in Polk, De Soto and Hendry counties in Central Florida.

Analysts say that the announcement intensifies the juice wars between Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, which owns the Tropicana brand.

"This shows Coke's commitment both to the Florida citrus business and the future of its own juice business," said John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest.

Coca-Cola officials say the new groves and resulting juice production are expected to add about 4,100 jobs to Florida's economy.

The move also is seen as a boost to historically declining acreage devoted to citrus production in Florida. During the state's past housing boom, many citrus farmers sold their land to developers. Since 1997, total citrus acreage has fallen by 25 percent, from 600,000 acres to 450,000 acres, because of disease, pests and other pressures, according to Florida Citrus Mutual.

Coca-Cola officials said that the Florida Citrus Commission is working on an economic study centered on the company's investment, and that a preliminary draft shows that over the course of 25 years the expansion will add more than $10.5 billion — or $422 million per year — to Florida's economy.

Coke assigns $2B for orange groves 05/07/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 9:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. A sports rout on Wall Street

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  3. Grocery chain Aldi hosting hiring event in Brandon Aug. 24

    Retail

    BRANDON — German grocery chain Aldi is holding a hiring event for its Brandon store Aug. 24. It is looking to fill store associate, shift manager and manager trainee positions.

  4. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  5. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights

    Business

    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.

    Yet.

    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]