Orange County citrus packing house shuts down after 35 years

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – In a rapidly expanding packing district, one business is bidding farewell. The closure of Emerald Packing Company, one of Florida’s last remaining citrus packing houses, has been confirmed. The property was recently sold, prompting the owners to express their belief that it was time to move on.

Stuart Arost, the owner of Emerald Packing Company, reflected on the family’s long association with the packing house, which has been in operation since 1972. It transformed into a family business under his father’s stewardship and remained so until its final day. Arost reminisced, “I’m not sure he was happy about it all the time, but I was, you know. It was a family business, and it stayed a family business even to the last day my boys were working with me, telling me what to do, when to do it, and I was totally comfortable with it because they were more current than me, and that’s the way it kind of played out. It was a nice business. I miss it already. Has it been gone that long? It’s nice to have family around you and go through the good and bad times.”

However, with the citrus industry’s decline in Florida and the remarkable growth occurring in the area, the decision to sell the property seemed inevitable. Arost acknowledged the changing times, stating, “Well, for us, it’s over. I mean, we sold the building and, you know, we were lucky in the sense that we’re in an area that’s moving in the right direction, as far as, you know, things taking place and building them and all that stuff. With that being said, you know, I’m glad somebody’s got their hands on the property.”

Arost emphasized that change is an ever-present force, unable to be halted. He recognized the city’s relentless growth, asserting, “You can’t stop the change. The city is growing. I don’t care where you go, that’s the one constant right now is change, and change is fine, but history is, too.”

As the curtains close on Emerald Packing Company, it symbolizes the end of an era for the citrus packing industry in Florida. Its closure serves as a reminder of the evolving landscape in the region, where progress and transformation are driving forces. The legacy of this family-owned business will be remembered, even as the pages turn towards new chapters in the vibrant history of Orange County.

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