Suppliers of Florida grapefruit are hoping consumers will buy into the fruit's health benefits this season and reverse declining sales figures.

UK grapefruit sales have fallen 8.2% by value to £25.9m and 8.6% by volume over the past year [Nielsen Scantrack MAT 52w/e 22 November 2008], with the fruit being seen as a costly luxury at times of economic hardship.

However producers are hoping a predicted lower retail price will help reverse the sales drop.

Florida grapefruit will be marketed on the strength of its health properties this season. "People who truly understand the nutritional value of grapefruit and have tried it are becoming regular purchasers ," said Mike Yetter, director of the Florida Department of Citrus.

Smaller volumes are expected in the UK this season, which runs until May. Production was down 13.5% to 26.6 million boxes this year, said Yetter, but favourable growing conditions with abundant rainfall meant juice content and eating quality were very good.

During the UK winter, grapefruit is also imported from Australia, Greece, Israel, Jordan, Panama and Turkey.