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OJ rivals Florida, Brazil may team up for global campaign to boost flagging consumption

St. Petersburg Times

By Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

Funny how a common enemy can unite warring rivals.

Florida citrus growers are fighting orange crop disease, rising costs and prices, and declining demand in the United States for 100 percent pure orange juice.

Brazilian citrus growers are fighting their own crop disease, similar expense challenges and falling demand in Europe, where Brazil ships 71 percent of its orange juice.

For the first time, Florida and Brazilian OJ industries are talking about setting aside differences and teaming up to create a generic, global OJ marketing campaign. The mutual goal? To reverse the U.S.-Euro drop in orange juice consumption.

Last week, U.S. and Brazilian citrus industry economists gathered at the University of Florida''''s Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred to explore the first steps toward a cooperative global ad campaign.

"If we could partner with Brazilian entities to create new programs in international markets, it would benefit Florida growers," says Bob Norberg, deputy executive director of research and operations at the Florida Department of Citrus in Bartow.

The United States makes up 40 percent of the global orange juice market. It is mostly supplied by Florida producers, with a little input from Brazil. Europe accounts for another 40 percent of demand, with Brazil as its principal supplier (with a small add from Florida).

A joint ad campaign could boost European demand and Brazilian OJ sales. In turn, that would likely reduce the chance of Brazil''''s citrus industry opting to dump more of its juice in the United States and disrupting our domestic market.

OJ faces growing competition in Europe from a number of bottled offerings of drinks - called "nectars" - blended with various fruit juices or mixed with water, as well as bottled waters supplemented with vitamins.

Says Norberg: "It''''s important right now to stabilize these two (U.S. and Europe) main consuming areas. Once that gets accomplished, we can start looking at OJ sales in emerging markets."

For decades, Florida''''s citrus industry has run generic ad campaigns (meaning no company names are used) in the United States.

Anita Bryant was spokeswoman in 1969 for the Florida Citrus Commission when she sang "Come to the Florida Sunshine Tree" and said, "Breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine."

Since 2008, the voice of Florida citrus belongs to actor Tom Selleck. His pitch - "Florida orange juice - healthy, pure and simple" - focuses on health benefits.

Brazil "free rides" on this ad campaign, meaning its orange juice makes up a portion of U.S. consumption, but the Brazilian industry does not help pay for its U.S. marketing.

It''''s too early to say what type of generic ads might eventually appear to promote OJ consumption in Europe, given its mix of 27 countries, languages and cultures. At last week''''s gathering, a Brazilian economist raised the possibility of creating a global symbol for orange juice like "Got Milk?" or the Mercedes star or the Nike swoosh.

I suppose an OJ slogan like "Just Juice It" isn''''t an option.

Contact Robert Trigaux at Read his Venture blog at

Source: Print Version St. Petersburg Times and online version