Major OJ Purchase Coming Soon From USDA

Ernie NeffOrange Juice


U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) food purchases to come this summer will include $25 million worth of orange juice (OJ). Florida Citrus Mutual CEO Mike Sparks said “the vast majority” of the OJ will come from Florida. “It’s going to be NFC (not from concentrate) and FCOJ (frozen concentrated orange juice),” he said.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the food purchases Monday, saying they will occur in the third quarter of fiscal year 2020. They will be in addition to previously announced purchases. “These Section 32 purchases will provide additional support for producers and Americans in need, in response to changing market conditions caused by the COVID-19 national emergency,” a USDA media release stated. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service will begin issuing solicitations in June and making deliveries in July.

Perdue said American farmers and ranchers “have experienced a dislocated supply chain caused by the coronavirus. USDA is in the unique position to purchase these foods and deliver them to the hungry Americans who need it most.”

“Florida Citrus Mutual played a significant role as the point organization on this effort,” Sparks said. “We’ve been mining the Section 32 program for as long as I can remember, and the USDA has purchased hundreds of millions of dollars of Florida orange juice since I’ve been at Mutual … In the past year with the high inventories, we’ve really focused on the Trade Mitigation Program and the Section 32 program to get juice through the system and returns up to growers. We believe this $25 million purchase will help do that in a big way. And we are cautiously optimistic more purchase commitments are on the way.”

An article in Mutual’s membership publication, the Triangle, stated that the most recent buy will bring the USDA’s juice purchase tally over the past six months to $80 million.  

Sparks said the USDA solicits bids on the OJ it buys. “We very much appreciate the USDA’s partnership on these juice purchases,” he added. “It’s really a win-win. The purchases benefit the Florida citrus industry, and the USDA gets a healthy, great-tasting product to distribute through its feeding programs.”

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large