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Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Orange juice prices have surged by more than 30% so far this year making it the world's top performing commodity.

Why it matters: Demand for the beverage continues to rise and supply has faced constraints, in part because of the exponential increase of coronavirus cases in Brazil, a top global center of OJ production.

On one side: U.S. retail sales of orange juice rose 46% from a year earlier in the four-week period ending April 11, the most since January 2015, according to Bloomberg, citing the Florida Department of Citrus and data from Nielsen.

  • After two decades of declining sales when Americans moved away from juice and opted for lower sugar beverages, orange juice consumption is reversing the trend as part of the quarantine diet.
  • It also has been sought because it is rich in vitamin C, which bolsters immune systems, in the face of the pandemic.

“The taboos of the past two decades are now erased, and with people trying to shop less frequently, drinking OJ can replace fresh fruit,” Judy Ganes, the president of J. Ganes Consulting, told Bloomberg.

  • “This was the long-awaited break the industry needed to shake off prior negative posturing and give OJ a fresh start.”

On the other side: Production had been expected to decline for the 2020–2021 orange crop and the latest estimate from Brazil's Fundecitrus showed it would be 25.6% smaller than the previous crop and 12.5% below the average crop size for the last 10 years.

  • That was largely because of poor weather conditions, and the coronavirus pandemic will likely further dent production as pickers get sick or are unable to work because of the virus.
  • Brazil now has the world's second highest number of cases, with nearly 365,000 confirmed.

But, but, but: As I wrote in March, orange juice prices are much higher than they have been in the past couple years but remain well below 2017 and 2018 highs.

Go deeper: Coronavirus has hit American farmers from all sides

Go deeper

Jul 30, 2020 - Health

Brazil lifts travel ban as cases and death toll surge to record numbers

Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo: Rahel Patrasso/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/ via Getty Images

Brazil ended a four-month ban on foreign visitors arriving by air despite reporting a record number of daily coronavirus cases and deaths on Wednesday, per AFP.

The big picture: More than 1,595 people died of COVID-19 and another 69,074 have tested positive in Brazil. The country's total reported cases (over 2.5 million) and death toll (more than 90,100) are second only to the U.S. President Jair Bolsonaro has downplayed the virus' effects, even after previously testing positive for COVID-19. Brazil is facing the threat of its worst-ever recession.

Biden threatens new sanctions against Ethiopian officials over Tigray conflict

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

President Biden on Friday signed an executive order allowing the Treasury and State Departments to impose sanctions against Ethiopian officials "responsible for, or complicit in, prolonging the conflict" in the Tigray region.

Driving the news: Hundreds of thousands of people are facing famine conditions in Tigray, but less than 10 percent of the needed humanitarian supplies has reached the region over the last month "due to the obstruction of aid access" by the Ethiopian government, according to Biden administration officials.

Top general: Calls to China were "perfectly within the duties" of job

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley told the Associated Press on Friday that calls with his Chinese counterpart during the final months of Donald Trump's presidency were "perfectly within the duties and responsibilities" of his job.

Why it matters: In his first public comments on the calls that have prompted critics to question whether the general went too far, Milley maintained that such conversations are "routine," per AP.