Americans seem to be souring on orange juice, according to recent data from Nielsen and the Florida Department of Citrus.
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Orange juice sales fell to an all-time low for the four-week period ending August 2. Sales in terms of gallons are down 9.2% from the year prior, while dollar sales are down 5.4%.
Florida Department of Citrus spokesperson David F. Steele III chalked up the drop in sales to a bacterial disease, known as greening, that is affecting the production and supply of Florida oranges. The 6,000 citrus growers in Florida supply oranges for 56% of the orange juice consumed in the U.S., according to the FDOC. The average retail price of a gallon of orange juice rings in at $6.44. The price is up 4.1% year over year, roughly double the current rate of inflation in the U.S.
“I’ve definitely heard people say it’s affecting their decision whether to buy orange juice or not,” said registered dietitian Alissa Rumsey, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
But it’s not just sticker shock causing shoppers to put down the OJ.
In an effort to help Americans cut back on sugar intake, nutritional experts have been advising against the sugary fruit drink. Rumsey said the average cup of orange juice contains about 21 grams of sugar. In contrast, a whole medium orange has about 11 grams of sugar, plus 3 grams of fiber missing in a glass of juice.
Steele, however, says there’s still plenty of reason to recommend a glass of orange juice as part of a healthy and balanced diet.
“One serving of [orange] juice has more than 100% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. Dietitians recognize that Americans are under-consuming fruit and vegetables,” said Steele.
With nutrition in mind, Rumsey said there’s also plenty more competition in the grocery aisle.
“Over the past few years, with the growing movement to consume less sugar, there’s been a lot more new products added to the market,” explained Rumsey. Flavored water, low-calorie juices and varieties like pomegranate juice and acai juice are now competing for shoppers’ attention.
The green juice and smoothie craze has also likely hurt orange juice sales.
“Health concerns and the market being flooded with more options … is part of the reason you’re seeing the decline,” said Rumsey.
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