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By Ned Hancock, Chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission

During this time of great uncertainty, be assured that the Florida Citrus Commission remains as committed as ever to serving the industry and supporting growers. We must work together to ensure we are able to continue providing families across the country and around the world with great tasting and nutritious Florida Citrus when they need it most.

At the start of the year, the Florida Department of Citrus launched a marketing campaign focused on driving sales of 100% orange juice. The campaign connects consumers directly with online retailers at Amazon, Walmart, Target and Instacart through targeted digital and social media ads. I’m happy to share that we are already seeing success.

Since January, the e-commerce program has directly led to more than $1.3 million in combined sales of 100% orange juice. Return On Ad Spend (ROAS), which is the total sales divided by the current investment, is at $3.64 across all e-commerce channels. In the last week alone, the e-commerce program on Instacart experienced more than $120,000 in sales. Similar results are coming in from Walmart and Amazon. Additionally, the program reached an audience of lapsed buyers 2 to 3 times a week and has more than 115 million impressions.

This campaign features messaging highlighting the role 100% orange juice plays in supporting a healthy immune system. It focuses on how a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables, including 100% orange juice, can provide key nutrients our bodies need. And, it focuses on the vitamin C content found in OJ. The FDOC marketing and scientific research teams worked very closely together to develop this messaging.

On Wednesday, my fellow Commissioners and I approved the use of an additional $500,000 in fund balance to increase the current marketing campaign.

However, as life-threatening concerns continue to grow around the globe due to the spread of COVID-19, we must act responsibly in our marketing of orange juice. As always, we are taking precautions to ensure that our messaging is factual, relevant and does not create unnecessary issues. We will not be implementing messaging related to COVID-19. The brands and our marketing agency are aligned with this decision.

The Commission also took important steps Wednesday to plan for the future. In a unanimous vote, we elected to continue the relationship with Edible on U.S. Consumer Marketing as well as bring them on board to handle Media Relations and Issues Management.

On the international front, we approved agency partners in Japan: Yamano & Associates; South Korea: Sohn’s Market Makers; Pan-Europe: Midsummer Marketing; France: Lowe Strateus; and Canada: Porter Novelli-Canada.

As the situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve, a few changes will be in place at the FDOC. At the guidance of the state, the FDOC offices in Bartow will be closed to all visitors until further notice. All services to the public will be provided by phone or email.

The facility will remain operational for employees at this time. The FDOC has been advised to work with employees on teleworking when possible. While staff is taking all precautions necessary to ensure everyone remains healthy, they will continue to work and provide exceptional service to the industry without interruption.

If you need to contact the FDOC, feel free to reach out to individual staff members or call the front desk at (863) 537-3999.

None of us know what the future may hold, but we do know this: the Florida Citrus industry is here to stay. We will get through this together.

Originally published in the Florida Citrus Mutual Triangle