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By Ned Hancock, Chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission

Before we kick off a new season, I want to take a moment to reflect on the last few months. As an industry, summer is typically a time when we slow down and enjoy some rest in preparation for the harvest ahead. But, as we have all realized by now, 2020 is shaping up to be anything but typical. At the Department of Citrus, staff has remained hard at work ensuring the momentum experienced by the orange juice category earlier this year doesn’t fade as we usher in fall.

Kicking off with a Back-to-School theme, the Department’s e-commerce campaign got off to a strong start in July. The 2020-21 campaign to drive sales of 100% orange juice through online retailers has driven more than $1.5 million in attributed sales and 59.5 million impressions at a ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) of $5.17 in the past 9 weeks.

In addition to new digital and video ads driving consumers to purchase, the Department partnered with influencers to create engaging content highlighting the benefits of including Florida Orange Juice as part of the back to school routine, regardless of what the classroom looks like this year.

Sales of 100% orange juice continue to show promising results, as well, despite it being a time of year when sales traditionally decline. In the 4-week period ending August 1, average year-over-year sales of total OJ increased 21 percent with 32.64 million equivalent gallons sold, according to the latest Nielsen Retail sales report. Sales of NFC OJ increased 27 percent for the period.

Additionally, the Global Marketing and Scientific Research departments teamed up this summer to debut newly published FDOC-funded research that found 100% orange juice and hesperidin may help to lower blood pressure. The FDOC launched a full-scale press initiative to secure media coverage in top-tier national outlets resulting in headlines such as ““What huge benefits do two cups of orange juice have? Scientists found out.”

Scientific Research Director Dr. Rosa Walsh and Assistant Director of Global Marketing Shelley Rossetter shared the history of the study, explained the findings and walked through how the headline came to be in a recent webinar, available now on FDOCGrower.com. More than a decade in the making, the study adds to the growing body of evidence showing 100% orange juice plays an important role in a healthy diet and further supports hesperidin as an active ingredient in orange juice with a noticeable impact on blood pressure. Together with partner agency Edible, the FDOC put this story in front of hundreds of editors and producers, promoted it to thousands of consumers and landed seven articles in top-tier national outlets.

Staff has also been immersed in planning on how best to continue serving the industry in the year ahead, especially amidst continued restrictions on travel and meetings. In addition to implementing robust first quarter programs aimed at keeping purchases of 100% orange juice heightened, the global marketing team is crafting a plan for the rest of 2020-21 that addresses ever-evolving consumer behaviors and ensures Florida Orange Juice continues to be placed in shopping baskets both online and in-store.

As we look ahead to fall, expect to see more of the above. 2020 has brought uncertainty to all of our lives but it has also brought opportunity. The Department and Commission are committed to bringing more information, more insights, more communication and, most importantly, more results to the industry this season.

I look forward to seeing everyone at our first FCC meeting on Sept. 16, which will be held virtually via Zoom, to discuss plans for the season ahead.

Originally published in the Florida Citrus Mutual Triangle