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With just a few weeks left in the year, there remain plenty of reasons to cheer on Florida Citrus as we head into the holidays.

We continue to see strong consumer demand for Florida Citrus through both Nielsen retail sales reports and the Department’s eCommerce program results.

For the 4-week period ending Dec. 4, 2021, average sales of total OJ are up by 3.9% compared to 2019 values. NFC OJ, which primarily consists of Florida Oranges, is the driving force behind this increase with sales up 10.4% compared to 2019 values while average sales of Recon are down by 7.4%.

While much has transpired in the U.S. since the onset of the pandemic nearly 21 months ago, consumers continue to seek out the health benefits Florida Orange juice and fresh citrus provide. Even amidst increasing inflation, orange juice remains in the cart for many consumers who associate OJ with its vitamin C and other wellness attributes.

E-Commerce continues to be a successful method of driving sales of Florida Orange Juice. Since the launch of this season’s programs in July, the Department has driven more than $24.7 million in attributed sales of Florida Orange Juice through partnerships with national and regional grocery chains. With more than six months remaining in the season, the Department is on track to exceed its initial goal of $30 million for the 2021-22 season. The latest dashboard is available to view here.

Up more than $10 million since I last shared an eCommerce update, the sharp increase in sales can be attributed to the success of programs ongoing since late September at regional grocery chains including Albertsons, Safeway, Food Lion, and Stop & Shop. With data only recently becoming available, the programs, which are run by third-party organization Quotient, account for the largest portion of the Department’s total attributable sales, reaching more than $8.4 million in the span of a few weeks, and are currently performing the strongest.

Looking ahead, the Department continues to monitor factors that may impact sales, including growing consumer concerns over inflation and the evolution of the pandemic. The Department is also planning a webinar in early January to share more about how the eCommerce program works, what happens behind the scenes, and what it all means. Watch for an invite after the holidays.

As news of the Florida Citrus industry continues to make headlines throughout Florida, the Department also remains focused on educating consumers through earned media opportunities. This week FDOC Executive Director Shannon Shepp and Florida Citrus Mutual’s Matt Joyner were guests on Spectrum 13 Orlando’s podcast Beyond the Soundbite to discuss both the challenges facing Florida Citrus as well as share their hope for the future of Florida’s signature crop.

Additionally, 100% orange juice continues to be in the news for its health benefits, including a highlight in Eat This, Not That! on ways to lower cholesterol, and multiple appearances of an article written in partnership with the FDOC on winter wellness.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your families.

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.