Supply of antioxidant-rich grapefruits rebounds

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Vitamin c Antioxidant

Florida's flagging grapefruit industry is showing signs of
rebounding, after the market was hit by a sharp drop in supply,
says a grapefruit grower cooperative, meaning the market should see
increased availability of the anti-oxidant rich fruits.

According to Ocean Spray, a juice marketer owned by 650 cranberry growers and 100 Florida grapefruit growers, the grapefruit industry was nearly destroyed in recent years by a string of natural disasters. In 2005, Florida, the world's largest grapefruit-growing region, was hit by back-to-back hurricanes and storms extensively damaging groves. But this year the industry is "making a comeback",​ according to Ocean Spray. The group forecasts the Florida grapefruit harvest will almost double from 19 million boxes a year ago to 28 million this year. The fruit is being increasingly marketed for its healthfulness, with the industry expecting new studies to demonstrate further health benefits. Currently, grapefruit is positioned as containing antioxidants, which may help prevent certain types of cancer, heart disease and stroke. Grapefruit also contains natural vitamin C and potassium. A recent study from the Hebrew University's Hadassah Medical School in Israel performed both in vitro​ and human studies on the antioxidant effects of red and white grapefruits. The results, published on-line in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry​ (doi:10.1021/jf058171g), found Eating a red grapefruit a day could reduce cholesterol by 15 per cent and triglycerides by 17 per cent and protect against heart disease. Although current grapefruit production signifies a big rebound, it significantly lags behind the industry high of 55 million boxes, reached in the mid 1990's. However, according to Ocean Spray's Grapefruit Juice Marketing Manager Dan Thunberg, the industry is "back in a strong supply position with grapefruit this year"."This harvest season, the trees are on the mend and we are producing more grapefruit than we could have imagined after witnessing the destruction,"​ said Daryl Jacobs, an Ocean Spray grapefruit grower in Florida. Grapefruit harvest generally takes place between October and April, with around 40 percent of the grapefruit harvested each season being used for juice, while 60 percent are sold as fresh grapefruit.

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