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Consumers Prefer Florida OJ

Josh McGill Florida, Orange Juice

Consumers are more likely to buy orange juice (OJ) if they think the fruit comes from Florida, new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) research shows. In fact, top reasons consumers purchase OJ include taste, health benefits and origin of the fruit. 

According to the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC), while 80% of OJ consumers who responded to a 2021 survey think oranges in their juice came from Florida, only 45% of OJ in the market was from Florida that year. This presents a challenge to the industry because consumers perceive Florida OJ as a premium product at a time when supplies are low, said Yan Heng, a UF/IFAS assistant research scientist in food and resource economics.

Florida OJ

As it turns out, nearly half of the respondents in a new survey led by Heng say they’re more willing to pay for OJ if it comes from Florida. The new UF/IFAS research focuses on consumers’ willingness to pay for OJ and the attributes they want in the juice.

Heng coordinated a national online poll of 1,495 primary household grocery shoppers in July 2020. Heng and two colleagues published their data in a new UF/IFAS Extension document. Economists found that any image of Florida — or verbiage that included the word “Florida” —makes oranges from the Sunshine State the most preferred juice among buyers. Mostly, they perceive juice from Florida to have better taste and quality. Consumers also want to support domestic farmers.

Florida OJ

Consumers prefer OJ from Florida because the state has a long history of citrus production. But many people do not know that some of the juice on the market is not 100% from Florida citrus, Heng said.

The leading sources for OJ that is not from concentrate — which is what most of Florida’s processed orange crop is utilized for — are Florida, Brazil, Mexico and other domestic sources, said Marisa Zansler, director of economic and market research for the FDOC.

Heng thinks it’s important that consumers know whether they’re buying OJ made from 100% Florida oranges or elsewhere. “We already have some additional information, like labels, on juice containers to tell consumers the origin of the product,” Heng said. “I think we just need to emphasize that when we communicate with consumers.”

Even in the face of citrus greening disease, Florida leads the nation in OJ production. But the amount of juice consumed is going down.

“Consumers have a strong preference for Florida orange juice, and it definitely brings additional value to Florida orange juice,” Heng said.

Source: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

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