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Price rises could make juices a 'luxury'

LONDON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Rocketing prices of fruit juice in commodity markets could soon make apple and orange juice an unaffordable "luxury," a trade publication says.

The Grocer magazine says a series of bad harvests from Florida to China, combined with increased demand from Asian countries, has pushed the price of orange and apple juices up on the world market, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

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Industry experts say prices could increase by as much as 80 per cent for orange juice and 60 per cent for apple juice in 2011, the newspaper said.

In the past year, the price of a one-quart carton of Tropicana fresh orange juice in the five major U.K. supermarket chains has risen 22 per cent, from an average of $2.85 to an average of $3.46.

A bitterly cold winter in Florida, the main orange growing area of the world, affected harvests, while similar cold weather in China, one of the main producers of the world's apples, wiped out 40 percent of apple harvests in some parts of the country.

Orange and apple juice producers, already the world's largest, most efficient juice producers, have little room to absorb cost increases, an industry expert says.

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"Pricing for orange and apple juice this year could see the most radical change," said Richard Hall, chairman of food consultancy Zenith International.

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