COVID-19 Altered Juice Trends

Ernie NeffCOVID-19

COVID-19

There were two distinctly divergent trends for citrus juice sales during the 2019-20 Florida citrus season, Florida Department of Citrus economist Marisa Zansler reported recently. The divergent trends were linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, which became a major issue in the United States in March 2020.

Prior to March 2020, there were orange juice (OJ) and grapefruit juice surpluses, Zansler said. The surpluses were due to excess imports that suppressed Florida grower prices, as well as to consumption declines of about 5.5% per year, on average.

According to Zansler, after March 2020, demand for OJ at retail surged at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, relieving excess inventories. There was a significant increase in OJ sales at retail for the rest of 2020. Sales have continued to exceed 2019 levels in 2021, she reported.

A slide Zansler showed described the “OJ Path to Purchase in 2021.” That slide indicated that increased OJ sales are associated with:

  • Pantry preparation/pandemic shopping
  • Increased consumer traffic to traditional groceries and large-scale stores
  • Increased consumer online purchases and use of grocery delivery services
  • Health and wellness nutritional benefits of OJ
  • Increase in consumption of breakfast from home

Zansler added that there are indications consumers are still shopping with COVID-19 in mind. On average, 28% of survey respondents indicated they purchased more OJ due to concerns about COVID-19 over the past 16 months. And since April 2020, an increasing share of consumers who reported buying more OJ say they are doing that to support a healthy immune system.

Zansler delivered her report at the recent International Citrus & Beverage Conference. The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences hosted the virtual event.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large