Aaron Himrod indicated he was cautiously optimistic about Highlands County Citrus Growers Association (HCCGA) members’ ability to grow fruit in the face of HLB at the association’s annual meeting on March 12. But Himrod, the outgoing association president, said the industry’s emphasis now needs to be on marketing. That and other activities at the meeting were described by association Executive Director Ray Royce.
Other keynote speakers at the meeting — Florida Citrus Commission Chairman Ned Hancock and Edelman’s Atlanta office Vice President and General Manager Jackie Hopkins — discussed marketing efforts of the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC). Edelman is the FDOC’s marketing agency. Hopkins said the marketing effort will target the “lapsed buyers” of orange juice, those who haven’t bought OJ recently. Royce said Edelman can learn what individuals are buying and why, then target them through various social media channels with information prompting OJ purchases. “They (marketers) know more about what you’re doing than you do,” Royce said.
Royce said recent FDOC marketing successes have exceeded projections, according to Hopkins. He said the coronavirus scare, which is the topic of most conversations today, appears to have actually helped increase orange juice purchases. “At least here in Florida, OJ sales seem to be higher than normal” as people buy the juice in an effort to remain healthy, Royce said.
New association officers for the coming year and all HCCGA citrus growers will be led by President Jim Snively. Royce reported that this is Snively’s fourth stint as president over the past 24 years, an HCCGA record. Other officers are Vice President Charlie Wilson, Treasurer Darin Simmons and Secretary Jarred Eddy.
Also at the annual meeting, the association honored the sponsors of its two major fundraisers — the annual golf tournament and sporting clays fun shoot.
The HCCGA annual meeting was held at the Seven Sebring Raceway Hotel and drew approximately 250, “maybe a few less than normal,” Royce said. He reported that there were only a few cancellations because of the coronavirus.
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