Chairman Johnson: Amidst consumer concerns of inflation, OJ sales remain strong

As today’s consumers navigate the grocery store, they have many things to consider. What foods do they like? What foods fuel a healthy diet? And what can they afford? As inflation continues to be a pressing concern for many, it is crucial that our industry maintain Florida Orange Juice’s reputation as “The Original Wellness Drink” and continue to highlight the health benefits every glass provides to ensure our product has a place in everyone’s carts.

The good news? Demand for Florida Orange Juice through the 2021 holiday season remained strong. In the 4-week period ending Jan. 1, sales of NFC orange juice were similar to 2016 levels and 5.5 percent higher than 2019.

Consumer research shows that reinforcing the benefits of drinking 100% orange juice remain a key strategy in driving demand. Leading factors that consumers continue to give about their decision to purchase orange juice include taste, price, and, increasingly, health and wellness.

The Department’s marketing programs continue to emphasize these qualities among both lapsed orange juice buyers and current. The eCommerce program has driven $32.4 million in attributable sales of Florida Orange Juice and reached more than 853 million consumers in total since its launch in July.

The continued pipeline of scientific research remains essential to ensuring new data is available to reinforce these well-known benefits and uncover new ones. Currently, ongoing projects include those looking at skin health, inflammation, nutrient density, and the effect of orange juice on things like appetite and mood. The findings of these studies, with ending dates ranging from late this year to 2025, will potentially be used to craft messaging that further supports the role of 100% orange juice in a healthy diet and refute misleading claims about its lack of health benefits.

We have seen a great deal of media coverage following the recent crop forecast. In that coverage, I was struck by the strong showing from across Florida’s Citrus industry to offer key perspectives from the grove and tell our story. While we know that the price of orange juice has risen steadily over the years as supply-side constraints emerged, it is heartening to see that for many consumers, Florida Orange Juice continues to play an integral role in their day. Continued investment in consumer awareness will help strengthen willingness to pay higher prices and maintain demand for the future.

To close, I’ll leave you with a few quotes from our fans on social media as a simple reminder of why we do what we do.

“Out of all the orange juices, Florida OJ truly tastes the best! I drink it every day!”

“Best oranges on the planet!”

“I have my 8 oz of Florida OJ daily!”

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.