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U.S. Orange Juice Sales Continue To Face Rough Road Amid Greater Variety Of Beverages

, September 11, 2014 () – I was at the market recently, in the juice aisle to be exact, and I was going over my options: Mango juice, strawberry banana juice and some sort of carrot/apple concoction that looked oddly appealing.

One juice I wasn’t looking at:

Orange juice.

It’s not that I don’t like orange juice. It’s just that these days, there seems to be so many other options available to me, at roughly the same price or even lower, that orange juice just seems kind of…I don’t know, boring.

America, it seems, agrees with me. According to Nielsen data published by the Florida Department of Citrus, U.S. consumers bought 35 million gallons of orange juice during the four-week period ending Aug. 2, down 9.2% from the year-ago period and the lowest level for total sales since the four-week period ending Jan. 19, 2002, the oldest data available.

The data showed that U.S. retail orange-juice sales have slipped in every four-week period since hitting a one-year high of 48.6 million gallons in the period ending Jan. 18, when cold and flu season prompted consumers to buy more juice for its vitamin C.

Analysts and traders say that a greater variety of beverages, including more exotic fruit juices such as pomegranate, energy drinks and ready-to-drink coffee, have taken market share away from orange juice. Higher prices for orange juice on grocery-store shelves have also discouraged consumers.

Will orange juice recover? Traders say no. Forecasters recently said that Florida's orange growers are likely to produce their smallest crop in about 50 years, as a bacterial disease ravages the state's citrus groves. With both supply and demand falling, it is hard for beverage companies to cut prices to lure back customers.

For the U.S. orange juice industry, the road continues to be a rough one.

Nevin Barich is the Food and Beverage Analyst for Industry Intelligence. Email him here or follow him on Twitter here.

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