Although orange juice sales have surged in recent months, the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) director of economic and market research expects growers to have reduced profitability this season. Marisa Zansler told the Florida Citrus Commission on May 20 that demand for Florida citrus is expected to be tempered with higher production costs and suppressed grower prices for uncommitted early/mid fruit. This should lead to overall reduced grower profitability despite the increased consumer demand for fresh and processed citrus.
At the onset of rapidly shifting consumer behavior in response to COVID-19 concerns, Zansler’s economics team implemented additional questions as part of its OJ Consumer Tracker to measure changes in consumer behavior due to the pandemic. In March, nearly 40 percent of respondents indicated they purchased more 100 percent orange juice in response to COVID-19 concerns. Fifteen percent of those indicated they were stocking up on food and beverage essentials. Twenty-three percent referenced that orange juice has vitamin C and supports a healthy immune system.
By April, with 31 percent of consumers indicating they had purchased more juice due to COVID-19 concerns, 52 percent indicated it was in association with stocking up on food and beverage essentials. Forty-two percent referenced that OJ has vitamin C and supports a healthy immune system, and 5 percent indicated the extra purchase was due to having breakfast more often. Of the 10 percent of respondents who had indicated they purchased less juice in April, 24 percent indicated it was because 100 percent orange juice was out of stock.
Also at the Florida Citrus Commission meeting, Christa Court, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences assistant professor, discussed the preliminary 2018-19 economic contributions of the Florida citrus industry. Her research shows that the Florida citrus industry supports more than 40,000 jobs and has an economic impact of $7.45 billion to the state.
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