(AP) June, 1949. An authoritative business magazine has reported that frozen orange juice sales were greater than the combined volume of the leading vegetable and fruit items ... There are several reasons for the quick acceptance of the new product. Among them is convenience of preparation ... just add three parts water ...
February, 1988. The Florida Department of Citrus reports that retail sales of canned frozen orange juice concentrate continue to decline. Reconstituted juice in cartons is now the fastest growing segment of the industry. The main reason is convenience ...
Frozen orange juice concentrate, commercially developed in the late '40s, was a boon to consumers who were used to a canned taste in orange juice. Promoted as a way to get a fresher-tasting product, frozen concentrate experienced tremendous growth during the '50s, when the development of frozen foods was as hot as microwave products are today.
Retail sales of frozen concentrate peaked in the mid '70s, according to Poonam Mittal, market research director for the Florida Department of Citrus, but have consistently declined since then. Although figures from A.C. Nielsen show that reconstituted juice prices average 22 percent more than frozen concentrate, nowadays consumers are willing to pay for water. The added convenience of not having to defrost and reconstitute their own juice is apparently worth it. (As a response to at least part of this phenomenon, Citrus World recently rolled out an aseptically packaged, microwaveable, frozen concentrate.)
In chilled reconstituted juices, the most popular container type is the carton, which accounts for 76 percent of the category, said Mittal. (Plastic is 20 percent and glass is 4 percent.) Canned orange juice, another category, represents less than 2 percent of all orange juice sales.
The orange juice category that still has "room for growth," according to Mittal, is the premium market, which includes products such as Tropicana Premium Orange Juice and Citrus World's Fresh 'n Natural. According to Scott Norton, national sales manager for special markets for Citrus World, sales of Fresh 'n Natural have exceeded the company's estimates by 300 percent. Neither of these products is a new idea; such products have appeared on the market before.
Mittal said although these types of products are not made from concentrate, they are still not considered freshly squeezed, since they are processed from a blend of oranges and are also pasteurized. Nevertheless, said Mittal, "the perception is that they're fresh squeezed. We all buy perception."
Freshly squeezed juice, however, is available at juice stations in local supermarkets, and some is shipped directly from Florida the same day it is squeezed. Freshly squeezed juices are also showing a lot of growth potential, Mittal said.
There is also a product sold in local supermarkets called Just Pik't, which has a shorter shelf life than the other premium products because it is not pasteurized. It is frozen.
Calcium-fortified orange juices, currently sold under the Minute Maid and Citrus Hill labels, are another relatively new category, one that has caused a bit of controversy.
Officials from the Food and Drug Administration have met with representatives of each company, expressing concern over label statements comparing the products to milk. The agency believes that the label messages may lead consumers to believe the products are superior to milk, or that they can be consumed as substitutes for the dairy product. Milk, unlike orange juice, is a significant source of protein, vitamin B12 and riboflavin.
Although these orange juice products are neither unsafe to consume nor illegal to market, the agency is generally concerned about indiscriminate fortification of the food supply with calcium and the cumulative effect an increasing number of products might have.
Not even the orange juice industry is united behind the idea of fortication. While some processors think it is a healthful addition that will increase sales, others are concerned that consumers will begin to see orange juice as less than pure. "Orange juice is seen by the consumer as one of the few foods that hasn't been tampered with. It's all those things that everyone is trying to get in their food products," said Mittal.