Orange juice has a special place in my heart. It was the first healthy-ish choice I ever made as a kid and screwdrivers were the first thing I got drunk off as a teenager. But, sadly, the orange juice industry is not doing well.
Actually, truth be told, Americans have all but given up on the sweet, beloved nectar. Nielsen reports that sales of refrigerated orange juice decreased by 4.1% in the last year. Hell, frozen orange juice sank by 9.7%. Worst of all, I had to learn this from Buzzfeed, the patron saint of distraction. I had to learn that the breakfast scene they show at the end of commercials is unjustly going away and will be sorely missed.
You should find a world without Tequila Sunrises and Alabama Slammers problematic, if not downright unsettling, and I shouldn’t have to explain why. But there are a few reasons for the industry drop-off that has everyone scratching their heads.
1. Everyone started drinking fancy and healthy juices.
When we were young—back when our eyes were clear, our hearts were full, and we couldn’t lose—it was pretty much orange juice, apple juice, and maybe grape juice. Those were your choices. Tomato juice was in the fridge too, but it was for adults (and their hangovers). Now, the trend is to scoop up the produce aisle and throw everything into a juicer.
That’s how, according to the Florida Department of Citrus, orange juice lost nearly 3.5 feet of shelf space between just 2012 and 2014, which is a loss of 9.7%. I think it’s safe to say that that’s around the time everyone got into the juice blend culture. Nobody wanted the juice of a singular fruit from the usual suspects. Suddenly, it was something like a lemon-ginger-avocado-pomegranate-raspberry-carrot blend with the name of “Morning Revive.”
2. Everyone realized that orange juice is pretty much breakfast candy.
Even though a sugar rush is the most exciting way to start the day, let’s all be buzzkills, I guess. I mean, sure, truthfully I was surprised by how much sugar was in what we buy as “orange juice.” One serving of Minute Made orange juice contains 24 grams of sugar, which is more than a package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (20g).
The damaging sugary hype may change relatively soon though, as by July 2018, most packaged food will have a separate line that specifically denotes "added sugar.” That could mean lay off grouping sugars together as if citrus is chocolate and falsely accusing breakfast dessert parading itself around in disguise. I won’t have it!
3. Huanglongbing is wreaking havoc on our crops.
Known as Huanglongbing, or the much less exciting and severely less supernatural monsterish term “Citrus Greening,” a rather serious citrus plant disease has gone after our precious orange trees like crazy, especially back in 2005.
But have no fear! The Environmental Protection Agency has recently approved sprayable antibiotics—three to be exact—to combat this wildly bogus and largely un-American demon.
Sadly, as much I want this to be some fluke or misunderstanding, the truth is orange juice is dying and there’s little to save it. This fate has been years in the making and we need to address it. Just as you never want to drag out a break up, unless of course you’re some kind of sociopath, it’s time for us to move on. The last time the orange juice industry saw a rise in sales was in the 2000-01 growing season.
Since then, "consumption has fallen by about 45%," according to Buzzfeed. You don’t come back from that...unless...something were to happen to other juices...maybe other beverages altogether...say beet juice’s brakes are randomly slashed...or green juice gets rebranded with truth overnight as “lettuce milk.” We’ll just have to see, I suppose, but the future doesn’t look too bright orange.