BARTOW, Fla. — If the last 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that our health is important. It’s a sentiment echoed by consumers across the country as they make conscientious decisions to place health and wellness at the forefront of their lives. For many, this means seeking out foods and beverages that may support a healthy immune system, including adding orange juice into their carts once again.
In the latest 4-week period ending Sept. 11, retail sales of total orange juice were up by 13.1% compared to 2019 values, with 31.8 million equivalent gallons sold. While the average year-over-year sales of NFC increased by 1.1%, NFC OJ sales are up by 20.3% compared to 2019 values.
The question now is how to ensure this shift in behavior will outlast the current environment we find ourselves in.
That’s where Dr. Lisa House, director of the Florida Agricultural Market Research Center at the University of Florida, comes in. At this week’s Citrus Commission meeting, Dr. House shared the latest findings on the impact of generic promotions on the demand for orange juice.
Data shows that the number of consumers indicating that the health and nutritional benefits of OJ as a major driver in their purchase has been growing since before the pandemic. Today, consumer agreement with the good attributes of OJ (e.g., “a natural source of vitamins and minerals”) is the strongest it has been in years.
Generic promotions help support this. And it gets better. As awareness of Florida in promotions grows, so does consumers’ positive perceptions of orange juice. Purchase frequency goes up, too.
Dr. House’s research shows that demand for orange juice would have declined by 10% without the awareness of FDOC promotional activities. That is equivalent to roughly 15 million boxes of Florida processed oranges. In fact, each dollar spent on generic promotions of orange juice returned between $9.28 and $9.67 to the Florida grower in added revenue at the grower delivered-in price level.
So, as consumers resume normal activities – travel, socialize, return to school – it’s likely that the impact of this time will leave an impression. For those who found a renewed sense of commitment toward their health, products that help support wellness will stay on the shopping list.
It’s the FDOC’s job to ensure OJ stays top of mind throughout this transition.
Since the launch of the 2021-22 season in July, the FDOC has driven $6.7 million in attributed sales of Florida Orange Juice through its eCommerce program, reaching 23% of the overall goal of $30 million. These efforts, with a strong commitment to raising awareness of the health benefits of OJ, aim to fuel a lasting shift in consumer behavior that will support this industry as it continues to recover and thrive.
Steve Johnson is Chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission, which oversees the Florida Department of Citrus. He is the owner and general manager of Johnson Harvesting, Inc., based in Wauchula, FL.
–Florida Department of Citrus