Damage caused to Florida's citrus groves by Hurricane Charley will not lead orange juice retailers to raise prices, according to press reports. Citing juice industry sources, Reuters said yesterday that leading juice retailers like Tropicana and Minute Maid feel that raising prices after the disaster would be counter-productive.

"They feel the current price of their product is at an appropriate level to maintain their market share," an executive who follows the juice-processing industry told Reuters. "With that in mind, they would be reluctant to raise their prices."

Since Tropicana and Minute Maid book their supplies through long-term contracts, they are shielded a bit by sharp price swings in the market, the sources told Reuters.

Another factor is the bumper stocks stemming from the near record harvest in 2003/04, Reuters noted. Florida harvested 242m (90 pound) boxes of oranges in 2003/04, the second biggest crop on record and just behind the all-time mark of 244m in 1997/98.

"Given that, it would take a very significant crop loss to move from the surplus situation we currently have to a shortage. I have heard several estimates of crop damage, but none have been so large as to bring about a change in the overall supply-demand balance," Jim Zellner, director of Food Procurement at Tropicana told the press agency.