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Chairman Steve Johnson outlines new opportunties ahead for Florida Citrus

We often hear that every new season brings new opportunities. This season, one of those opportunities comes in the form of marketing Florida Orange Juice. And I’m already encouraged by what I’m seeing.

When I last wrote to you in June, the Commission had just approved a Department of Citrus budget that included nearly $20 million devoted to domestic marketing. This is the highest amount dedicated to such purposes in nearly a decade, largely due to the addition of $17 million in general revenue funding from the state.

The Department wasted no time getting started to ensure these funds are used effectively and efficiently. Keeping eCommerce as the centerpiece of the campaign to drive sales of Florida Orange Juice, the team immediately launched programming that builds upon the previous season’s success and continues the momentum experienced since the campaign’s launch in Jan. 2020.

Since July, FDOC marketing has driven more than $5.1 million in attributed sales of Florida Orange Juice, putting the program well on its way toward the overall goal of $30 million in sales. While the core of the program remains the same as the previous year – with partnerships at Kroger, Walmart, Instacart, and Amazon already underway – strategic adjustments have been made to expand reach and optimize performance.

One of the largest changes is the expansion of the target audience. The program continues to specifically reach lapsed and light lapsed OJ buyers with messaging and tactics designed to encourage a return to OJ. However, it has grown to encourage all shoppers to keep Florida OJ top of mind while they are shopping for their families in an effort to increase repeat purchases and attract new buyers.

Another shift is the addition of regional retailers to the program. Working with a third-party organization called Quotient, the Department is able to stretch its eCommerce program to include regional chain stores, such as Albertsons, Safeway, Food Lion, and more. This portion of the program will launch in the coming weeks.

The Department is also taking full advantage of advancements in technology that make working with digital-based eCommerce tools so attractive. The team is able to monitor the program in real-time and adjust instantly to ensure the message, image, timing, and placement of every engagement is reaching consumers and driving toward purchase.

As consumers continue to navigate life in a pandemic, growth of eCommerce shopping is expected to continue. Even in Wauchula, Florida, Kroger delivery is taking hold. A desire for healthy foods and beverages, such as OJ, also continues to fuel sales.

In fact, sales of 100% orange juice are trending close to 2016 levels, as indicated in the latest Nielsen Retail Sales Report. For the 4-week period ending Aug. 14, 2021, average year-over-year sales of total OJ are up by 13.2% compared to 2019 values. For NFC, the increase is 18% over 2019, reflecting a strong desire for Florida Orange Juice.

While reaching consumers where they shop will continue to be a key component of the Department’s campaign, the team will also focus on programs that increase awareness to support eCommerce activities. We’ll hear more about this, as well as updates on fresh marketing plans, at the next Commission meeting on Sept. 22 at 9 a.m. in Bartow.

New season, new opportunities. Let’s go.

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.