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As we head into the last few months of our growing season, I’m feeling energized by what’s ahead. Plans are being formulated for how best to research, cultivate, and grow the escaped trees we’ve found. Growers who suffered losses from the January freeze now have a disaster declaration to help support them. And consumers continue to seek out our products – even in the face of rising inflation.

But it’s on us to keep this momentum going. It hasn’t always been easy, but this industry has proven over and over again that we are fighters. We will find a solution and we will continue to produce the great-tasting Florida Citrus we are known for around the world.

While the Department continues to focus the majority of its marketing programs on Florida Orange Juice, a portion of the budget is dedicated to supporting sales of fresh citrus. This has included eCommerce promotions with Kroger and Instacart, social media programs, and influencer activations.

Messaging throughout these activations has focused on the great taste and nutrition of Florida Citrus, its versatility as an ingredient in recipes, and the unique growing conditions that contribute to its flavor and juiciness.

This week, registered dietitian and social media influencer Cara Harbstreet partnered with the FDOC to create a recipe for orange-glazed pork chops with a garlic-sage pan sauce featuring fresh Florida Oranges. She shared her recipe video on her Instagram channel and wrote a blog about what makes Florida Oranges a unique and nutritious ingredient when cooking.

The author of The Primal Gourmet Cookbook, Ronny Joseph Lvovski, created a recipe for shrimp ceviche featuring fresh Florida Citrus, sharing his recipe video with his 680,000 Instagram followers.

Earlier this month, influencer Hetal Vasavada of Milk and Cardamom, created a sparkling fresh Florida Grapefruit mocktail to share with her 103,000 followers on Instagram.

On the juice side, the Department’s eCommerce program has driven more than $50.5 million in attributed sales of Florida Orange Juice since July. This includes a recent display ad program with Kroger from October through December that garnered $3.4 million in attributed sales and led to eight household purchases of Florida Orange Juice for every 1,000 households targeted, including more than 5,500 purchases by new OJ buyers.

With planning underway for what next season’s marketing programs will look like, expect to see an invitation soon for a virtual meeting in April seeking grower input on programs and direction. See anything lately that inspired you to purchase? Have a perspective you would like to share? Take note and let us know during this meeting.

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.