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By Steve Johnson, Chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission

While the last few seasons have been challenging in terms of production, there is positive news to share. The Florida Citrus industry continues to be a strong component of our state’s economy. In fact, the industry contributed $6.762 billion to the state of Florida in 2019-20, more than it did in the previous season, despite lower production. This impact is felt most intensely in our rural communities, where citrus continues to be the lifeblood of the economy and provides local and state tax contributions that support our schools, roads, and health care services.

As growers, this growth in value may not be immediately apparent. After all, we have less fruit to sell. But it does bode well for our future. First, the study highlights the high value of NFC OJ and, in turn, our oranges. In 2019-20, the wholesale value of NFC OJ was $2.208 billion versus $676 million for FCOJ. This study also serves as a reminder for those outside our industry that investing in the state’s signature crop benefits all Floridians. We must continue to support replanting efforts as well as scientific research to solve HLB. We also must implement marketing efforts that drive sales of our products.

At this week’s Commission meeting, we heard plans to do just that. With an additional $12 million in state funding, pending Governor DeSantis’ approval of the state budget, the FDOC is poised to not only evolve current marketing programs to keep the momentum it has experienced in sales during the past year and a half but expand them to reach all primary shoppers within the U.S.

The Department’s partner agency, Edible, presented a detailed 2021-22 marketing plan Wednesday showcasing the way that data and insights help build programs that resonate with consumers and drive sales of Florida Orange Juice through e-commerce. With the additional funds, the Department will expand its e-commerce partners, adding big box retailers, such as Target, as well as additional regional grocery chains, such as Albertsons. The Department would also partner with Amazon to not only drive sales on its shopping platform but to increase reach through its digital streaming services where consumers can be targeted with Florida Orange Juice messaging.

Speaking of messaging, the 2021-22 plan continues to focus on “The Original Wellness Drink” as a way to share the nutritional benefits of Florida Orange Juice with consumers. As we head into the “new normal,” consumers are increasingly becoming health conscious and shopping with immunity support, cognitive function and other health benefits in mind. Consumers are also captivated by the attributes that make Florida such a great place to live and vacation – sunshine, beaches and sub-tropical weather. Creative concepts showcased Wednesday capture the essence of Florida and remind consumers to “Take a Florida OJ Break” complete with calm ocean waves ambiance.

The plan also aims at growing preference for Florida Orange Juice through awareness driving activities, such as social media, influencer partnerships, performance marketing and earned media. These kinds of activities not only help the FDOC connect with consumers but engage them with opportunities and occasions to purchase Florida Orange Juice or purchase repeatedly.

Throughout it all, the FDOC will measure the success of programs in order to meet its goals, as it has done over the last year and a half. With the additional state funding, the Department estimates the e-commerce program will drive $30 to $45 million in attributed sales of orange juice. Additionally, they’ll reach 1.7 billion impressions throughout the entire program.

The 2021-22 plan builds upon the learnings and success of the current season, which continues to perform well. With a month still remaining in the fiscal year, the Department has already more than doubled its target of $10 million in attributed sales of orange juice to $21.3 million. The e-commerce campaign has also reached 421 million impressions.

The next Florida Citrus Commission meeting is scheduled for June 23 at 9 a.m. in Bartow (which happens to be National Hydration Day). Commissioners are expected to vote on a preliminary operating budget for the Department for 2021-22.

Photo Caption: A screenshot of a short video the FDOC would share on social media platform TikTok encouraging consumers to ‘Take a Florida OJ Break’ to escape endless scrolling

Originally published in the Florida Citrus Mutual Triangle