Chairman Johnson: Optimism ahead of first citrus forecast

In just a few days, the USDA will announce its first forecast of the 2021-22 season. As we await this official kick-off, I remain optimistic about the state of the Florida Citrus industry. Regardless of whether production is higher or lower than last season, we have made great strides in the last several years.

First, we are closer than ever to figuring out HLB.

Years of dedicated research is advancing our understanding of the disease and how best to approach the care of impacted trees. Research continues on a path toward a greening-resistant tree and support on both the state and federal level is strong.

The ongoing collaboration taking place between growers and scientists as part of the CRAFT program is a solid step forward. We must continue to work together to ensure what we are doing now is leading toward solutions in the future.

Another factor keeping my outlook bright: consumers.

Interest in Florida Orange Juice remains strong amid a return to many pre-pandemic activities, such as eating at restaurants and on the go. This signals a renewed preference for OJ even as we return to normal routines. Even brighter: data shows it’s due to the health and wellness benefits orange juice provides.

The Department is using these insights to continue to reach consumers with Florida Orange Juice messages that stick, ultimately driving to purchases through eCommerce and at stores.

Since its launch in July, the FDOC has driven more than $9.1 million in attributed sales of Florida Orange Juice with sales through Kroger, Walmart, Instacart, and Amazon. The Department tracks these sales and other industry measurements on its dashboard, updated weekly here.

Additionally, the Department launched a new way to stay connected with the industry this month with 5 Minutes with the FDOC. Each month, this digital newsletter will deliver research, program updates, and consumer behavior insights to your inbox in a format that takes about 5 minutes to read.

If you would like to sign up to receive this and other updates from the FDOC, email [email protected].

Like many of you, I’ll be listening on Tuesday and hoping for good news. But no matter what the forecast says, I’m confident progress is being made – we may just have to dig a little deeper to see the true breadth of it.

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.