Explore the claims in support of allowing hybrid citrus in OJ, an issue that is being debated within the Florida citrus industry.

One of the side effects of citrus greening is a reduction in Brix value, the measurement of how much natural sugar is in orange juice. There are rules governing the minimum Brix value of orange juice that processors can accept, and this has presented a problem. One solution that has been proposed is using hybrid citrus in OJ. Currently, only 10 percent of orange juice can be made from reticulata, or mandarin orange. Processors would like to increase that to 15 percent, according to a Citrus Industry article. The article shared benefits of using juice from other types of citrus from a recent workshop that discussed possible changes to “OJ’s standard of identity.” See the details below.

Benefits of Hybrid Citrus in OJ

During the workshop, Peter Chaires, the executive director of the New Varieties Development and Management Corp., discussed the benefits of hybrid citrus in OJ. He shared the details of a UF/IFAS consumer study where participants were given orange juice made from “100% Sugar Belle mandarin, 100% Hamlin or Valencia orange, 90% Hamlin or Valencia and 10% Sugar Belle, 50% Hamlin or Valencia and 50% Sugar Belle, and some samples of 100% commercial OJ.”

According to the article, “consumers preferred the juice blended with Sugar Belle. The study showed that Sugar Belle improved appearance, flavor and overall liking of Hamlin. Sugar Belle increased sweetness and lowered sourness and bitterness of both Valencia and Hamlin juices, at both 50/50 and 90/10 blends.”

Benefits of increasing the allowance of other juices in OJ include:

  • “It creates another supply source for domestic OJ…”
  • “Processors have more blending options…”
  • “Consumers can benefit from a high-quality product…”
  • “The increased percentage can accommodate new HLB-tolerant hybrids.”

While changes to current rules for citrus allowances and Brix levels would take a considerable amount of time, proposals for changes are being considered in many corners of the Florida citrus industry.

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