Chairman Johnson: Securing the Legacy of Florida Citrus

Each year, the Citrus Hall of Fame induction provides an opportunity for us to reflect on and celebrate the contributions of some of our industry’s pioneers and leaders. A few weeks ago, we gathered for the induction of John L. Jackson, Lew J. Prosser, Adam H. Putnam, and Steven D. Sorrells. With backgrounds spanning the fields of research, business, public service, and citrus growing, their stories served as a welcome reminder that the success of this industry is built upon collaboration and teamwork. Every field plays a critical role in securing the legacy of our industry. We need people from all walks of life to ensure Florida Citrus remains an integral player in Florida’s economy and the global marketplace for decades to come.

So, it felt fitting that I spent time this week advocating for citrus and agriculture with youth at Hardee County Farm Bureau’s Ag-Fest. Without a new generation of growers, scientists, economists, and entrepreneurs entering our field, the hard work we are doing today to overcome present solutions will mean nothing in the future. Talking to children about where their food comes from, how it grows or how it gets to their dinner plate can encourage them to follow in our footsteps one day in order to keep Florida Citrus alive. Regardless of your role in our industry, I highly encourage you to get involved with agricultural education programs in your area – you might walk away with a new perspective on just how magical and meaningful our job really can be.

As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, I’m thankful not only for the reminders that both the young and the wise can offer to us but also for the consumers who continue to support Florida Citrus. For the 4-week period ending Nov. 6, 2021, average year-over-year sales of NFC OJ were up 13.4% compared to 2019 values with total OJ sales up 5.5%, according to the latest Nielsen Retail Sales Report.

Additionally, the Department’s eCommerce program continues to deliver strong results. Since July, the program has driven more than $13.4 million in attributed sales of Florida Orange Juice. While all partnerships continue to be successful, Walmart has driven $6.9 million in attributed sales alone.

The Department’s Winter Wellness campaign is now running, which emphasizes the role Florida Orange Juice plays in bringing immune support and sunshine to consumers during the coldest, darkest months of the year. Activations will include eCommerce, social media, influencer partnerships, and earned media to continue to drive to sales in-store and online.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families. Thank you for all you do and for all you mean to those next in line.

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.