• Kyodo News

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A series of hurricanes that hit Florida last summer, coupled with strong demand for ethanol, has prompted Japanese beverage makers to raise prices of orange juice this month.

The damage in Florida, one of the world’s largest orange-producing areas, has increased prices of the fruit worldwide.

Adding to the problem is the increasing number of orange farmers in the United States and Brazil who are switching to sugar cane and other crops to make ethanol, reflecting strong demand for the petroleum alternative.

As an environment-friendly fuel, ethanol has come into the spotlight because the plants and grains used to manufacture it absorb the same amount of carbon dioxide as is emitted when the fuel burns.

Starting next Tuesday, Kirin Tropicana will raise the price of its mainstay Pure Premium 100 percent orange juice by 24 yen to 70 yen per liter for retail and industrial uses.

Morinaga Milk Industry Co., which sells the Sunkist brand in Japan, and Meiji Dairies Corp., which sells some Minute Maid products, both raised orange juice prices about 10 percent on May 1.

Orange prices have more than doubled in the past three years, said an official at Kirin Tropicana’s planning department.

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