Florida orange juice concentrate hitting a high... importers warn of higher tomato prices... trident to acquire ocean beauty...

Legacy of Wilma

Dry weather and disease in Florida have pushed orange juice concentrate futures to their highest levels for 14 years.

Florida, which is the world's second-largest orange growing area after Brazil, has endured dry conditions and an outbreak of canker in the wake of Hurricane Wilma, which struck last October.

Fruit will be smaller, said the US Department of Agriculture, resulting in a major reduction in expected tonnage for processing.

The news follows months of rising prices for Brazilian fruit caused by a reduction in availability. UK packers have warned of orange juice price rises to come this summer.

Less for growers

Negotiations between Italian tomato growers and processors for new pack raw material contracts have finally been concluded. Growers are facing reduced EU subsidies and have been reluctant to accept price levels offered by processors.

Producers from the north and south of Italy negotiated in tandem to avoid being played off against each other.

However, growers will still receive less than last year, even though this will be against a reduced total tonnage of 5.2 million tonnes against 6.2 million last year. The price reduction has been forced through by processors who although now fewer in number have become far bigger in size.

It is too early at the moment to determine new season price expectations for the canned product in the market.

But with little carry-over - 95% of last year's pack has been sold - and the lowest tonnage contracted for some years, importers are warning the trade of much higher prices after packing starts in August.

Salmon merger

Two of the largest Alaskan salmon canners are to merge. Trident Fisheries has agreed a deal in principle to acquire rival Ocean Beauty Seafoods.

Consolidation is long overdue in the Alaskan canning industry, where profitability has been an issue for some time.