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By Ned Hancock, Chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission

As we come to the close of another storied Florida citrus season, I am proud of what we have accomplished. The Florida Citrus Commission and the Florida Department of Citrus made strategic shifts in marketing, embarked on a thoughtful and thorough search for the best partners to carry our vision forward and remained productive through a global crisis.  These collaborative efforts lead me to look into the next season with a renewed sense of hope for what is to come.

This year, along with our partner agency Edible, the Department built a campaign with a new look, feel, tagline, audience and tactics to drive sales of 100% orange juice. Most importantly, Edible developed an e-commerce campaign that directly impacted Nielsen retail sales data and held themselves accountable to delivering tangible results.

Since its launch in January, the 2019-20 e-commerce campaign has driven more than $4.85 million in attributed sales of 100% orange juice and 312 million impressions at a ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) of $4.34.

In March, a global pandemic brought a shift in consumer behavior unlike anything the Florida Citrus industry has ever experienced. E-commerce channels that were implemented in the new FDOC domestic marketing campaigns became the de facto method of grocery shopping for millions of Americans. Orange juice quickly reemerged as a staple item on consumer shopping lists due in part to decades of industry marketing on the health benefits every glass provides.

In fact, total OJ sales for the season beginning October 2019 are up by 10.4 percent with 309 million equivalent gallons sold, according to the latest Nielsen Retail sales report. In the four-week period ending June 6, average year-over-year sales of total OJ increased 24 percent with 34.65 million equivalent gallons sold, Sales of NFC OJ increased by 26 percent for the period. Additionally, total grapefruit juice sales were up by 1.9 percent for the season with total sales of 8.34 million equivalent gallons sold so far this season.

To sustain this traction, marketing programs will continue through the summer at a higher level than years past with approximately 20% of the budget planned to be used between July and September. We will continue our close work with Edible to build a larger 2020-21 plan to present to the Commission in September, featuring strategies that specifically support Florida grower returns and highlight Not-From-Concentrate OJ.

On Wednesday, Commissioners approved a preliminary operating budget for the FDOC of $19.875 million with $10 million allocated to domestic marketing. This budget is contingent on approval of state general revenue funds by the governor, which we look for before the end of the month. Commissioners will set the tax rate in October after the first USDA crop forecast of the season.

If you were unable to attend the June 17 FCC meeting, it is available for viewing here. The FDOC also invites you to attend a webinar June 25 at 11:30 a.m. focused on providing insights from across all departments on the 2019-20 season and Dr. Marisa Zansler’s analysis of the latest Nielsen retail sales data. Details are available here.

The cadence of our communication with the industry may slow during these summer months, but the work being done on behalf of Florida Citrus growers will not. I look forward to reuniting with you all in the fall. Until then, please reach out to me, any of my fellow Commissioners and FDOC staff with any needs.

Originally published in the Florida Citrus Mutual Triangle