Yan Heng, Marisa Zansler and Lisa House have authored a new study on consumer response to orange juice (OJ) during the COVID-19 outbreak. Heng is a research assistant scientist and House is a professor, both with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Food and Resource Economics Department. Zansler is the director of the Economic and Market Research Department at the Florida Department of Citrus.
According to the authors, OJ has become one of the main products that consumers have turned to during the pandemic. The dollar sales of orange juice at grocery stores rose 50.7 percent for the four-week period ending April 11, compared to the same four-week period last year, according to a Nielsen report.
Using data from a monthly consumer survey, the new study presents recent findings regarding consumer’s responses to the COVID-19 outbreak in terms of OJ purchases. “This study provides an initial look at the consumers who have contributed to the surge in OJ sales, as well as the reasons why their purchases of orange juice have changed or stayed the same,” state the authors. “Such findings are expected to help the industry understand the impacts of the pandemic and develop marketing plans to sustain the purchases beyond the short run.”
The study’s authors found that shoppers who are male, younger than 45 years old, with higher levels of education and income, or living in an urban area, are more likely to increase OJ purchases in response to COVID-19. Results also revealed that consumers’ awareness of OJ information from media sources is important for enhancing demand. Therefore, increasing consumers’ awareness could be a key factor in attracting new consumers to the market.
The authors recommend that in the long run, the industry needs to closely monitor whether and how consumers’ shopping and diet habits return to prior patterns. “We may not have seen all the impacts yet, as job losses and salary decreases may cause consumers to become more price sensitive and limit what they purchase,” they note. “For the orange juice industry, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought an opportunity. With more people consuming OJ than before, there is the chance to remind consumers of the benefits of drinking orange juice, which have been found to be the key drivers for consumers to stay active in the market.”
UF/IFAS expects to publish the study soon.