Friday, June 04, 2004

Citrus Growers Give Awards, Discuss Low-Carb Diets

Contributed by Donna Storter

The Gulf Citrus Growers Association 18th Annual Meeting was held June 2 at
Sanibel Harbour Resort with approximately 175 growers, sponsors and
associates in attendance enjoying the luncheon provided by Citrus
Industry Magazine and Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. Following the
luncheon and election of slate of directors and officers, GCGA Executive
Director Ron Hamil presented original citrus artwork to the following four
resigning directors and noted their dedication to GCGA.: Hugh English,
serving from inception in 1985, George Austin, serving from 1987, Bernard
Lester, serving since 1989 and Tom Jones, serving from 1994. All were
lauded with appreciation for their tireless efforts promoting the citrus
industry in southwest Florida through this trade association.
Andy Taylor, Chairman of Florida Citrus Commission, named two key
challenges facing the citrus industry: 1) maintaining the tariff on
imported orange juice and 2) maintaining (and increasing) the domestic
demand for Florida orange juice. He boasted that GCGA's own George
Austin is chairing the committee overseeing the efforts to preserve the 70
year old tariff. Addressing the second challenge, he noted that the
bleak issue of current diminished sales are related to the current "low
carb" diet that has negatively affected many sectors of the food industry
Along with record crop production, the supply far exceeds the demand. But
according to Mr. Taylor, on the positive side, the low carb focus on
health issues reveals the vast majority surveyed are concerned for
nutrition and health food issues overall, and OJ is the most nutritiously
dense natural beverage available.
He then introduced keynote speaker Dr. Dan Gunter, Executive Director of
Florida Department of Citrus who optimistically expressed the opinion that
the current "low carb" diet was only a short-term fad, whereas the
nutritional awareness issues coinciding with it was expected to become a
trend, much longer lasting with significant impact on health-conscience
consumers, thus a return increase in sales of orange juice, especially the
fresh, not-from-concentrate that had recently become popular.
He cited studies that showed weight control is more apt to be maintained
in individuals who consumed 1/4 to 1/5 of daily calories at breakfast,
further noting that most orange juice was consumed before 10 a.m. In
marketing studies aimed at determining the cause of declining sales as
well as solutions to the industry's downturn, he displayed graphs of
respondents whose orange juice consumption habits were: 16% drank orange
juice every day 10% drank orange juice most of the time on a daily basis
10% drank orange juice about half the time on a daily basis 37% drank
orange juice occasionally 27% never drank orange juice He noted that
marketing was more successful in increasing consumption rather than
initiating consumption, thus the FDOC marketing strategy now was aimed at
the 10% and 37% users.
A video of the current orange juice campaign advertisement was shown, the
one where a man is attempting to concoct a nutritional cocktail in his
blender by adding liver, bananas, and a fish, then showing a 90-calorie
glass of orange juice that contained as much nutrition. Marketing
tests have shown that 85% of viewers understand the content of the
commercial, including the references to nutrients, and most will pay
attention to the commercial and watch all of it because they are revolted
by the concoction and want to see if he will actually drink it.
He concluded that it was the responsibility of the citrus growers to grow
the product, and the responsibility of the Department of Citrus to grow
the market demand for it. His final statement was positive, that there is
no substitute for orange juice.

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