Shannon Shepp Column – November 13, 2020

By Shannon Shepp, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Citrus

Florida growers have long sponsored scientific research projects on the health and wellness benefits of citrus through the FDOC. Some projects are quick and completed in under a year. Others take a decade from start to finish. Most are in between. Rarely, do so many come to fruition at once. However, we are witnessing such a time.

16 manuscripts. Eight projects. Two years.

In the span of two years stretching from July 2019 to 2021, eight projects have resulted in seven published manuscripts, four manuscripts under journal review, four manuscripts in development and 1 manuscript anticipated to come.

At a time when consumers are seeking foods and beverages that provide health benefits and immune system support, this research has never been more important to help fuel marketing programs that drive sales and support Florida growers. Every new scientific finding provides a new avenue to reach consumers and further grows the body of evidence showing 100% orange juice has a place in a healthy diet.

The research covers a wide array of health benefits. There is a study focused on hesperidin. There is one looking at oxidative stress and inflammation and another on eye health. The results on those are yet to come.

There are studies that focus on children like the one that found orange juice consumption has no impact on weight status or the study showing that children who drink orange juice are more likely to eat more whole fruit. And, new this month, yet another showing that children who drink orange juice tend to have higher quality diets overall and take in more nutrients than those who do not. You can read more about these in our newsroom, where we highlight all FDOC-funded research as well as citrus research by other organizations. You will also see these findings sprinkled throughout our marketing programs in the form of advertising messages, social media posts, media outreach, influencer collaborations and more.

And the peer-reviewed, independent, and unrestricted research keeps on coming. New projects in the works include ones focused on skin health, satiety and more on hesperidin. Results for these will come in over the next several years, continuing a long tradition of research at the FDOC.

As for marketing, the 2020-21 campaign to drive sales of Florida Orange Juice continues to perform well. Since July, the e-commerce program has delivered more than 111.5 million impressions and $3.1 million in attributed sales of 100% orange juice at a campaign ROAS of $5.33.

In the four-week period ending October 31, average year-over-year sales of total OJ increased 12.7 percent with nearly 32.4 million equivalent gallons sold, according to the latest Nielsen Retail sales update. Volume sales of NFC OJ are up 19 percent for the period with 19.5 million equivalent gallons of NFC sold. Volume sales of Recon OJ are by 2.4 percentwith 10.6 million equivalent gallons sold.  

Total grapefruit juice sales were up by 9 percent for the season with total sales of 912,270 equivalent gallons sold this period.

As we head into the winter months, marketing content will focus more heavily on cold and flu season and, as always, will incorporate messaging from scientific research to remind consumers about the vital nutrients orange juice provides.

Originally published in the Florida Citrus Mutual Triangle