In the news: OJ sales, crop forecast down

Wall Street Journal: article by Alexander Wexler reports that U.S. orange juice sales have fallen to a record low. The article states that “consumers bought 34.96 million gallons of orange juice in the four weeks ended Aug. 2, down 9.2% from a similar period a year ago,” according to Nielsen. Further, the article notes that orange juice sales have been slipping for years due to higher prices and an increase in the availability of more exotic fruit juices and flavored waters. Of note, similar coverage appeared on FreshPlaza.com.

Quartz.com article by Daniel Medina entitled, “America’s relationship with orange juice continues to sour,” covers the record low orange juice sales, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. The article cites weak demand, low crop yields and high prices as reasons behind struggling sales. Additionally, the article blames orange juice’s caloric content for record low sales: “In addition to its high price tag, orange juice is sugary and high in calories. An average cup (8 oz) of orange juice contains roughly 20 grams of sugar and 112 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.” Of note, similar coverage appeared on RedEyeChicago.com but does not address the sugar issue.

CBSNews.com also reported on orange juice sales data, noting that orange juice sales have fallen to a record low, according to The Wall Street Journal. In reference to reasons behind the demise of orange juice, the article cites competition from “fresher-sounding” juices, high prices, lack of consumer interest in eating breakfast and dietary concerns over consumption of calorie laden drinks.

FoxBusiness.com article by Gabrielle Karol entitled, “The Real Reason You Stopped Buying Orange Juice,” also discusses the record low orange juice sales, according to recent data from Nielsen and the Florida Department of Citrus. Commentary from David Steele on the impact of citrus greening on juice production and supply of Florida oranges is included along with message points on the nutrition benefits of orange juice. The article reports that although orange juice prices have increased 4.1% this year, nutrition experts have been recommending consumers cut back on “the sugary fruit drink” to reduce consumers overall consumption of sugar. Alissa Rumsey, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is featured saying, “the average cup of orange juice contains about 21 grams of sugar. In contrast, a whole medium orange has about 11 grams of sugar, plus 3 grams of fiber missing in a glass of juice” and suggests, “Health concerns and the market being flooded with more options … is part of the reason you’re seeing the decline.” Steele is quoted with an opposing view on the juice’s health benefits, stating “One serving of [orange] juice has more than 100% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. Dietitians recognize that Americans are under-consuming fruit and vegetables.”

Ledger article by Kevin Bouffard discusses the decline in orange juice sales: “Orange juice appears to be battling a spreading perception among U.S. consumers that it has too much sugar and calories as well as increasing competition from other beverages favored by younger consumers, such as sports and energy drinks.” The article features commentary from FDOC spokesperson David Steele on how the agency’s marketing campaign is addressing the sugar issue.

Bouffard’s piece was later picked up by HeraldTribune.com. Of note, similar coverage appeared on DailyCommercial.com.

An article at GrowingProduce.com: discusses citrus crop projections for 2014-2015, citing that analysts expect crop yields to be some of the smallest on record. The article references Elizabeth Steger of Orlando-based Citrus Consulting International who estimated 89 million boxes and finance and investment firm, Louis Dreyfus Citrus Inc., who estimated 96.6 million boxes – both figures among the smallest Florida crop yields since 1964-1965. The article notes that the USDA is scheduled to release its 2014-2015 Florida citrus crop projection on October 10th.

An earlier Wall Street Journal article by Leslie Josephs shares orange juice and coffee sales data, reporting that prices rose recently as a result of “tight supplies.” The article notes that Florida recently yielded its smallest crop in 49 years, due in part to citrus greening. Further, the article states that U.S. retail sales of OJ have been dropping due to greater competition in the juice aisle and higher prices.

The DailyCommercial discusses the state of the Florida orange crop, noting citrus consultant Elizabeth Steger’s has predicted the smallest crop in 50 years. Michael Sparks of Florida Citrus Mutual and Marty McKenna of Florida Citrus Commission are both quoted reacting to Steger’s prediction.