GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Coca-Cola and Cutrale Citrus Juices announced today at a meeting of the Florida Citrus Mutual in Lake Alfred that they have each pledged $1.5 million to the University of Florida for research programs.
The contributions will be used to fund sustainable research programs managed by the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, known as CRDF, a direct support organization of UF aimed at eliminating the threat of Citrus Huanglongbing, a disease commonly known as “greening.” HLB is one of the most destructive diseases of citrus crops, debilitating the productive capacity of citrus trees.
“In making this contribution, Coca-Cola and Cutrale will greatly enhance the ability of scientists at IFAS and around the world to find answers to this catastrophic problem,” said Jack Payne, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the University of Florida.
“Research to find a sustainable and environmentally conscious way to fight this disease is the best way we can support the entire value chain for the citrus industry,” said Guy Wollaert, general manager, Global Juice Center, The Coca-Cola Company. “Coca-Cola is committed to working with our partners in the citrus industry to help eradicate HLB. Solutions will benefit citrus growers worldwide and ensure that consumers continue to have access to the high quality citrus fruit and juice.”
“The worldwide citrus industry today faces one of its greatest challenges to control and prevent the rapid spread of citrus greening,” said Hugh Thompson, president of Cutrale Citrus Juices, USA.
“Our donation reflects Cutrale’s continued support of the orange growers around the world and of sustainable research programs that will deliver long-term solutions for the control and prevention of HLB. Long-term solutions for HLB must make the grower more efficient, improve yields and give the grower confidence that they can profitably reinvest in the growing of oranges.”
Formed in May 2009, the CRDF is a nonprofit corporation set up to manage and provide oversight for funds raised to bolster research to aid the citrus industry. The CRDF’s 13-member board of directors is made up of representatives from the citrus industry, academia and government. The mission of CRDF is to advance disease and production research and product development activities to ensure the survival and competitiveness of Florida’s citrus growers through innovation.
The CRDF uses a scientific advisory board to identify research priorities and gaps in citrus greening research.
“Among the many diseases that have invaded or could invade Florida, Brazil and other citrus regions globally, greening represents the greatest threat to the industry,” said Tom Jerkins, president of The Citrus Research and Development Foundation Inc. “The generous financial contribution made by Coca-Cola and Cutrale allows the CRDF to continue our pursuit to fight and eliminate HLB.”
Coca-Cola is the world’s largest beverage company, with more than 500 brands of soft drinks, juices, teas and coffees on grocery shelves around the world.
Cutrale is one of the world’s largest processors and growers of oranges. Cutrale services customers in more than 80 countries from its processing facilities in Brazil, Florida and southern Europe.
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