OJ is not only good for you, but good for all of us
By Michael E. Rogers
Professor and Center Director
UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center
While this past year of living with the global pandemic has left us with some devastating and discouraging lessons, there is one very positive outcome — Americans drank a lot more orange juice.
Led by the marketing and outreach efforts of the Florida Department of Citrus, many consumers chose to stock up on orange juice, especially during the first six months of the pandemic. They understood that drinking Florida orange juice was not only delicious but delivered a powerful combination of nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants that have positive health benefits.
A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) report by food and resource economics faculty and the Florida Department of Citrus found that Florida orange juice became one of the main products that consumers turned to during the pandemic. That’s good news for Florida citrus growers who provide the majority of fruit processed into juice sold to the American market.
Along the way, we hope that these new and returning orange juice consumers remember the delicious and refreshing taste of Florida OJ as well as the inherent health benefits of this “anytime” drink and continue to be regular consumers.
Florida processes more orange juice than any state in the union. It produces more OJ than any other country in the world except one. And at UF/IFAS, we proudly provide the latest research and outreach that keeps Florida’s citrus industry the best in the world.
At the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, we sometimes say that your morning glass of orange juice keeps us up all night. Those late nights include thinking about how to improve its taste, improve citrus grove productivity, impact growers’ bottom line, improve the effectiveness of processing; basically, how to get the best product to your table.
While that individual glass of OJ tastes great, it also packs a powerful economic punch to Florida’s economy. The Florida citrus industry has an annual economic impact to the state in the billions of dollars and supports 45,000 jobs.
So, while OJ should be part of a daily routine, Tuesday, May 4, is an extra special time to indulge in a delicious glass of OJ, because it’s National OJ Day. We will be celebrating along with the Florida Department of Citrus and throughout the week of May 3 through May 7. You can participate, too, by posting your own salute to the Florida citrus industry and posting it on your social media. Remember to use #NOJD2021.
I’ll be toasting some of the hardworking UF/IFAS scientists, Extension agents and lab technicians who are on the job working to support our citrus growers to keep the supply of oranges and grapefruit going strong.
So, let’s take a moment on Tuesday and throughout the week to raise a glass of orange juice in a toast to all the hardworking Florida citrus growers who keep making us all proud growing Florida’s iconic oranges and making the best orange juice.
To learn more about UF/IFAS citrus research visit citrusresearch.ifas.ufl.edu.