Florida citrus growers have seen OJ demand go up since the start of the Covid pandemic as consumers look for the health benefit of the Vitamin-C rich juice.

While the Covid pandemic has had far-reaching negative effects in every industry, the effect on OJ demand has had been the opposite. In a nice silver lining to the volatile market for Florida citrus growers over the past few years due to damage from Hurricane Irma and imported orange juice, Florida citrus saw not-from-concentrate (NFC) OJ sales soar starting in March. See the story by the numbers, below.

Covid Increases Florida OJ Demand

When Covid hit in March, many consumers turned to the health benefits of NFC Florida orange juice to combat the virus. Research has continued to show orange juice’s positive effects during cold and flu season due to its high Vitamin-C content. In the face of a new virus, consumers reached for what they know had health benefits to spare: Florida OJ.

Florida citrus growers need a win. Hurricanes in the 2017-2018 season reduced oranges harvested, leaving juice processors to rely on imported juice to meet demand. When the 2018-2019 season did better than expected, juice processors were already buying imported juice that was cheaper than Florida-sourced juice, and many growers couldn’t break even or even sell their oranges.

Just before the Covid pandemic hit in March, Florida juice processors had record-high OJ inventories and were still reducing their demand for Florida orange juice in the 2019-2020 season. Then Covid hit, and OJ sales soared. A September Lakeland Ledger article maintained that retail OJ sales in the US increased 12.2% for the 2019-2020 season through August 1st, citing the Florida Department of Citrus numbers. That’s even with factoring losses sustained due to decreased foodservice sales.

“We’ve been able in one year to draw down on OJ inventories despite the decline in foodservice sales. At the end of the season, retail sales have made up for that loss plus an additional 10% in OJ consumption,” said Mike Sparks, the chief executive of Florida Citrus Mutual in Bartow, in the article. In an added bonus, the article reported that pre-season negotiations for the 2020-21 orange crop have processors offering much better prices.

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.