Chairman Johnson Column – June 25, 2021

By Steve Johnson, Chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission

As the Commission voted this week to approve the Department of Citrus budget for 2021-22, one particular number stood out. Nearly $20 million of the $29 million budget is devoted to domestic marketing of Florida Citrus making it the highest amount dedicated to such purposes since the 2013-14 season.

The increase is largely due to the receipt of $17 million in general revenue funding from the state for marketing.  We are thankful our state leaders recognize both the value of the industry and the impact these funds can have right now. Americans continue to turn to 100% orange juice for its health and wellness benefits following a shift in demand during the pandemic. While sales initially skyrocketed in March 2020, they have since trended above 2019 levels bucking previous trends and showing sustained momentum for the category at retail.

Now, maintaining that momentum will be key.

With eCommerce expected to remain a focus for many consumers in the next year, the Department will continue to drive sales of Florida Orange Juice through retail eCommerce partners. This season, the Department drove more than $24 million in attributed sales of orange juice. In 2021-22, with the additional support provided by the State, the Department will expand its eCommerce programs to include a larger target audience and more regional, national and online retailers to drive an estimated $30 to $45 million in attributed sales. A new dashboard previewed at this week’s Commission meeting will provide a monthly snapshot of how the Department is progressing toward these goals and share other metrics important to growers.

As we end the current season, I’m feeling optimistic and energized. With the approval of the budget, the Department, and its partner agency Edible, will have no pause in activity as new programs launch July 1. Developments continue in the areas of scientific research as well as economic and market research to ensure the industry is well supported and growers have what they need. In the groves, we are making progress and positive signs are beginning to emerge for the year ahead.

The next Commission meeting will take place in Bartow on Tuesday, Aug. 24 at 9 a.m. In the meantime, head to FloridaCitrus.org/Growth to view a video recapping the Department’s marketing programs in 2020-21.

Originally published in the Florida Citrus Mutual Triangle