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2020 Was A Sunny Year For Florida Orange Juice

Jennuine Captures
Flickr / Creative Commons

While 2020 was bad for many businesses, it was an exceptionally good year for Florida citrus growers. The industry wants to keep that momentum going.

Remember at the beginning of the pandemic when everyone hoarded toilet paper? Turns out they were stocking up on orange juice, too.

Sales of OJ have been declining for years. But in 2020 retail sales hit a five-year high according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Mike Sparks, CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, said coronavirus-leery consumers turned to orange juice because of its high Vitamin C content.

“COVID-19 really re-emphasized, reeducated our consumers about the whole need to eat healthy, and Florida citrus fits right into that category,” he said.

Sparks says an aggressive marketing campaign is needed to remind people to keep drinking their orange juice once the pandemic ends. Citrus farmers already pay for marketing through a tax on each box of harvested fruit. With the state facing a budget crunch, it’s unlikely Tallahassee will be spending money on OJ ads.

Sparks said one solution is a special assessment, or tariff, on imported citrus from Brazil and Mexico.

Bradley George was a Morning Edition host and reporter at WUSF until March 2022.
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