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By Ned Hancock, Chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission

For a brief moment this week, it felt like fall in Florida. Though fleeting, it serves as a welcome reminder that, while it may not be cold here, much of the rest of the country is firmly marching toward winter.

From a consumer perspective, the change in seasons is notable. Traditionally, consumers purchase more 100% orange juice as winter approaches and Department of Citrus marketing programs kick into high gear to further support the momentum. Not only is it cold and flu season – a time when awareness of the health benefits of OJ is high thanks to decades of consumer messaging – but it’s also a time when friends and family gather more frequently to celebrate and host events in which beverages play a central role. However, we are also living in an era filled with great uncertainty and what was once tradition may be upended. Therefore, continued consumer awareness of the role 100% orange juice plays in this season of life is crucial for our industry.

Fortunately, the current Department of Citrus campaign to drive sales of Florida Orange Juice is perfectly poised to do just that. Focused on e-commerce partnerships with major retailers, the campaign is an ever-evolving program designed to keep Florida Orange Juice top of mind as consumers shift their behavior in order to navigate a year unlike any other. Today, the campaign continues to drive sales by reminding consumers that some things never change, including the health benefits of 100% orange juice and the way a glass of OJ (or a mimosa) can bring people together, even when they are far apart.

Since July, the 2020-21 campaign to drive sales of orange juice through online retailers has driven more than $2.1 million in attributed sales and 82.3 million impressions at a ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) of $5.09.

The 2020-21 season is looking different from a grower perspective, too. You may recall we began last October with high OJ inventories for both FCOJ and SSOJ. Thanks to higher than expected sales in 2019-20, current ending inventories are down 16 percent for FCOJ and 24 percent for SSOJ, where the bulk of the sales occurred. Ending inventories as of Sept. 19 for SSOJ are at 22.3 weeks supply, which is equivalent to 27.9 million processed orange boxes.

As expected, Florida Oranges fueled the movement in SSOJ, or NFC, where more than 40 weeks supply was sourced from Florida fruit vs. 5 weeks supply sourced from imports. On FCOJ, the majority of movement was supplied by imported juice with 25 weeks vs. 13.7 weeks Florida fruit.

Overall, as of Sept. 19, 77.9 percent of the Florida processed orange crop was utilized as SSOJ used to make NFC with the remaining 22.1 percent of the Florida processed orange crop utilized as FCOJ.

This information, along with details on pricing and utilization, is available to all growers in the Processors’ Statistics Report and Grower Companion Summary released by the FDOC every week. Dr. Marisa Zansler will host a webinar on Oct. 13 to walk through how to read these reports from an industry perspective.

Additionally, as part of the webinar, Dr. Zansler will provide an in-depth overview of the next Nielsen Topline Sales Report and what it means for Florida Citrus.

Originally published in the Florida Citrus Mutual Triangle