The Florida citrus industry is getting a significant boost thanks to a new partnership with Coca-Cola, which announced a $2 billion investment to support the planting of 25,000 acres of new orange groves in partnership with Cutrale Citrus Juices and Peace River Citrus Products.
The largest citrus planting initiative in Florida in 25 years is expected to bring more than 4,100 direct and indirect jobs to the state.
“The Coca-Cola Company is proud to be part of this investment in Florida and its citrus industry,” Steve Cahillane, president of Coca-Cola Americas, said on May 7 during a press event in Auburndale, Fla. “A thriving Florida citrus industry is critical to helping us build our Simply and Minute Maid juice brands. Through viable partnerships and meaningful investment with Cutrale and Peace River, we together will foster sustainable, responsible growth in Florida.”
Coca-Cola has played an active role in the Florida citrus industry since purchasing Minute Maid in 1960, and today operates 26 facilities across the state, employing 6,100 people. In partnership with Cutrale, Coke purchases nearly one-third of Florida’s orange harvest, supporting more than 400 local growers.
Over the last five years, Coca-Cola has invested more than $400 million in its manufacturing plants throughout the state. Most recently, its Main Street juice facility in Auburndale underwent a significant expansion, adding a new production line and increasing warehouse space. The project created 129 new jobs.
In 2010, Coca-Cola and Cutrale Citrus Juices each pledged $1.5 million to the University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Development Foundation for critical research around Huanglongbing disease, commonly known as “citrus greening,” which causes hard, bitter fruit and ultimately kills the infected tree.
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