Florida Citrus Stakeholders Look to Rise Above OJ Overload

The industry’s effort to raise money for Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) marketing programs through voluntary contributions from importers hit a wall earlier this year. The Florida Citrus Processors Association (FCPA) was unable to deliver a consensus among U.S. importers.

We share in the disappointment that there will be no voluntary program. However, the Industry Review Committee charged with exploring a federal order will continue its investigation into whether a national promotion order that collects a mandatory marketing assessment from importers makes sense for the Florida grower.

The industry has to halt and eventually reverse massive consumption declines; and in doing so, increase grower returns. There is no alternative if the industry is to survive. We must investigate if a mandatory federal order provides the best marketing vehicle to move more juice. The committee is tasked with providing the necessary data so that growers can make an informed decision.

In the meantime, Florida Citrus Mutual is still actively engaged in several other initiatives to reduce bloated Florida OJ inventories and move grower returns upward:

We are pursuing an additional USDA juice purchase of $90 million to add to the $47 million already announced by the agency. If successful, the USDA purchase would reduce Florida’s increased orange juice inventories by 35%.

We are seeking state general revenue dollars for the FDOC marketing programs, which would be available July 1, 2020.

We are looking at federal legislation to capture a portion of USDA Section 32 funds from the tariff on imported OJ to fund domestic marketing programs.

The good news is the FDOC and the major orange juice brands are ramping up efforts also to help move inventory.

In January, Tropicana launched its new OJ campaign via television spots, “Sip Your Sunshine.” The new ad debuted on “Good Morning America” on ABC, and later during “CBS This Morning,” as well as during “Today” on NBC. In addition to television advertising, the Tropicana campaign will feature integrated marketing support across digital, social, and PR channels.

Pitching in also are our friends at Citrus World (Florida’s Natural Growers) who reports a significant increase in the current advertising campaign and are refreshing the co-op’s Disney partnership. Disney’s product license with Citrus World Inc. dates back more than 75 years. New packaging will bring a touch of magic to the Disney “Donald Duck Outrageous Orange Juice” — including no pulp, with pulp, and no pulp with calcium.

There also has been a concerted effort to remind people via social media and other multimedia platforms about the benefits of drinking orange juice and boosting their immune system — something vital in this time of COVID-19 concern.

And finally, Peace River Citrus Products Inc. has announced plans for a $98 million expansion at its citrus processing facility located in Bartow as part of a partnership with Coca-Cola North America. The new 320,000-square-foot expansion is expected to create up to 175 jobs and be completed in early 2022.

Peace River will manufacture select juice beverages – including Minute Maid products for foodservice customers. Over the past decade, Peace River and The Coca-Cola Company have made several valuable and long-term investments in the Florida citrus industry, including significant grapefruit and orange plantings.

I am optimistic about the future of Florida citrus. We just have to dig deep and collectively decide what is right for the Florida citrus grower.

Let’s channel the energy of the forefathers of the citrus industry – leaders such as Richard Morse, Ed Taylor, and Anthony Rossi — who along with the FDOC and the Florida Citrus Commission created a market where there had not been one — and then convinced America of the value of Florida orange juice and why it needed to be an essential part of breakfast.

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