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Florida seeks to invigorate orange juice sales with splashy ad

The Florida Department of Citrus (the state’s citrus marketing group) put out a new ad on July 13.

The Florida Department of Citrus (the state’s citrus marketing group) put out a new ad on July 13.

Orange juice slowly cascades into a glass and splashes up its sides. Tom Selleck's smooth bass resonates in the background.

"Once a day you can help support your immune system," he says. "… Once a day you can get a unique, all-natural power pack of essential vitamins and minerals."

"Maybe," he pauses. "Once a day is not enough."

The new orange juice advertisement, which debuted last week, made survey group participants want "to go up and lick the television screen," said Leigh Killeen, marketing director for the Florida Department of Citrus.

It's the department's latest effort to turn around a nine-year decline in orange juice sales. Sales have dropped about 30 percent since 2000, hurting the growers and processors in the multibillion-dollar Florida citrus industry.

The commercial is simple and sleek. The days of a talking sandwich and controversial celebrities touting the liquid sunshine are long gone.

"We've tried to focus on the hero, and orange juice is the hero," Killeen said.

They still feature "the pour" — the enticing, slow-motion shot of juice falling from a pitcher and sloshing around a sparkling glass.

The ad runs in 30-second spots in the mornings during shows including Good Morning America and Today, and it plays on cable channels, Killeen said.

The ad is part of a bigger, health-focused orange juice advertising campaign, which launched a year and a half ago. This commercial is the fifth in the campaign, which also includes Internet ads that are often placed on health-related Web sites.

The campaign seems to be working, said Bob Norberg, the department's deputy executive director of research and operations.

Though total orange juice sales nationwide have declined by about 260 million gallons a year since 2000, this past month's sales are up by almost 3 percent compared with the same month a year ago. It's not huge, but it's something, Norberg said.

"We're happy with any type of turnaround," he said.

He attributes the uptick to the department's ads that tout all orange juice, as well as ads for specific brands put out by companies, such as Tropicana, Minute Maid and Florida's Natural.

The department has a $19 million advertising budget this year. Its funded by a tax paid by citrus growers on each box of citrus sold.

The ads are critical for Florida, which uses more than 90 percent of its oranges for juice. Selling them as whole, fresh oranges isn't an option, said Florida Citrus Mutual chief executive Michael Sparks.

They're not the prettiest, he said, and they don't peel well, like California's crop.

"But they're the best darn juice orange you'll find anywhere," he said.

Florida's citrus industry has a $9 billion economic impact on the state, according to Florida Citrus Mutual. Usually, the state produces about 1 billion gallons each year.

Orange juice sales were strong through the 1990s, but when the low-carb craze hit, sales dropped.

They steadily declined for a few years, and just when industry experts thought they'd see a turnaround, several hurricanes battered Florida, wiping out groves. The supply plummeted, so prices rose, and people turned to cheaper drinks, Norberg said.

"Anything that's a beverage is a competitor with orange juice," Killeen said.

Juices (including orange juice) are the sixth-most-consumed drink, after soft drinks, beer, bottled water, milk and coffee, respectively, said John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest.

Recently, the biggest increases in sales have been in the cheaper versions of orange juice: reconstituted juice and from-concentrate juice. It's a result of the poor economy, Norberg said.

Bumping up orange juice's sales would help growers, who are already battling tough times due to trees afflicted with citrus greening and canker.

The more orange juice people drink, the more processors buy — and the better prices growers can get for their oranges, Sparks said.

"We've got to drink our way out of this problem," he said. "We've got to consume more orange juice."

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2443.

Florida's top ag commodities

Money received by Florida farmers

1. Greenhouses, nurseries $1.9 billion

2. Oranges $1.2 billion

3. Tomatoes $464 million

4. Dairy products $461 million

5. Cattle $449 million

6. Sugarcane $445 million

7. Strawberries $329 million

8. Grapefruit $259 million

9. Snap beans $217 million

10. Eggs $186 million

Source: 2007 cash receipts, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Florida seeks to invigorate orange juice sales with splashy ad 07/18/09 [Last modified: Monday, July 20, 2009 11:25am]
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