Friday, June 04, 2004

Growers Discuss Low-Carb Effect on OJ

By Donna Storter

The Gulf Citrus Growers Association 18th Annual Meeting was held June 2 at
Sanibel Harbour Resort. Approximately 175 growers, sponsors and associates
were 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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