The notification came in a letter from Tropicana human resources representative Jennifer Kane to the State Rapid Response Program. The program works to prevent or minimize the impacts of layoffs on workers, businesses and communities.
Kane wrote that the closing was “due to unforeseen business circumstances caused by the decline in the number of boxes of oranges available across Florida given the upcoming crop, as well as future crop projections.”
“Unfortunately, all fruit processing operations will be closed at Fort Pierce,” Kane wrote, adding that all employees in fruit processing, citrus operations, feed mill and fruit maintenance operations will be impacted.
The letter stated that “the future of the fruit processing operations at the Fort Pierce plant is highly uncertain, and this closure is expected to be permanent.” It added that all employees were expected to be separated from employment July 15 but would be paid through Sept. 13.
The devastating citrus disease HLB, first discovered in Florida in 2005, is the primary cause of the decline of citrus production in the state. It has also led to huge reductions in Florida citrus acreage and in the number of Florida citrus growers.
Almost a year ago, on Aug. 3, PepsiCo, Inc. announced that it had entered into an agreement with PAI Partners to sell Tropicana, Naked and other select juice brands across North America. Learn more about that transaction here.
Much of the early history of Tropicana, including its founding by Anthony Rossi, was recalled in a Pieces of the Past column in Citrus Industry magazine in 2018. See the article here.
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Senior Correspondent at Large