Orange juice (OJ) sales remain strong, with the 2021 holiday period closing near 2016 levels, Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) economist Marisa Zansler told the Florida Citrus Commission on Jan. 19. Total OJ volume movement for the holiday period ending Jan 1, 2022, was 37.9 million gallons, an increase of 2 million equivalent gallons compared to 2019. The gains are primarily reflected in the not-from-concentrate (NFC) category, Zansler reported.
Moving into the third year of the pandemic, American households are navigating a return to familiar routines such as family gatherings, travel and venturing outside of the home, the economist added. Here’s more from her report:
At the end of 2021, there were signs that consumers’ confidence in spending would drop over concerns about rising prices of consumer goods.
By December 2021, the cost of living rose at the fastest pace in nearly 40 years with inflation of 7% over a 12-month period. The food index rose 6.3% over the course of the previous year. All of this meant sticker shock at grocery stores for many Americans.
Within the OJ category, rising prices are consistent with inflation. The OJ price increase is largely tied to the NFC category.
The FDOC OJ Consumer Tracker showed that, on average, 32% of consumers surveyed looked for in-store promotions/deals/coupons in response to rising food prices. Another 8% indicated that they purchased less food in response, 23% purchased store brands/economy size, and 9% switched from traditional to supercenters/bulk stores. Still, 28% reported no change in food-shopping behaviors. Of particular interest, the consumers surveyed who had purchased OJ were more likely to report no changes in food shopping behaviors when compared to non-OJ buyers. However, price has always remained a barrier to purchasing OJ for some consumers.
This season, it is estimated that prices will increase by 5.73% with NFC increasing by 5.87%. Some economists estimate that consumer prices should stabilize at grocery stores in 2022, but for the OJ category the uncertainty is high.
At the same time, it is important to note that rising prices in the OJ category is not a new phenomenon for this industry. Prices have been on the rise, particularly for NFC, for more than a decade.
Consumer research shows that reinforcing the positive attributes of OJ is a key strategy in driving demand. The leading factors that consumers gave for their decision to purchase 100% OJ are consistently taste and price. Brand is ranked third, but of note is the increasing emphasis on health and wellness, even prior to the pandemic.
Zansler said demand for Florida fruit remains strong, but support is still needed amid consumer concerns in 2022. Investing in consumer awareness strengthens willingness to pay higher prices and has a lag effect that strengthens and maintains consumer demand in the future.
Source: Florida Department of Citrus
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