FLORIDA CITRUS URGES RETAILERS TO GIVE ORANGE JUICE ITS SPACE

GAINSEVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida Department of Citrus expects a banner year for orange juice supplies and prices, and the agency says retailers who don't allot ample facings to frozen concentrate orange juice could miss out on a windfall.Bob Behr, economic and market research director for the FDC here, said a study conducted for his department indicated retailers were giving too much space to other

GAINSEVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida Department of Citrus expects a banner year for orange juice supplies and prices, and the agency says retailers who don't allot ample facings to frozen concentrate orange juice could miss out on a windfall.

Bob Behr, economic and market research director for the FDC here, said a study conducted for his department indicated retailers were giving too much space to other frozen juices and drinks, and not enough to frozen orange juice.

That must change, he said, if retailers are to reap the benefits of what the state expects will be a large orange juice crop.

"We're expecting a pretty good crop this year, so the availability of orange juice should be up this year," Behr said. Actual numbers were not expected to be available until this Wednesday.

Behr said combined sales of refrigerated and frozen orange juice reached all-time highs in July and August.

Behr admitted, however, that the frozen concentrate is not doing as well as the refrigerated product. Still, his agency's study said that "frozen orange juice sales could be a lot better if they were given a fair share of the frozen department space."

The study, conducted in March by the A.C Nielsen Co., Northbrook, Ill., through an audit of 3,000 grocery stores, revealed frozen orange juice accounted for 49% of the dollar sales of frozen juice, but only 36% of the facings in the juice section.

By adding more facings of orange juice, retailers would also be adding to their bottom line, the study concluded. Frozen orange juice facings contribute $8.21 per week to store sales compared with $4.63 for frozen drinks.

"Given the plentiful supplies that we anticipate and given the favorable pricing, it should be a strong signal to the retailer to allocate more space and not only increase volume, but increase revenues and profits as well," Behr said.

Behr said he expected orange juice supplies out of Florida would continue to grow over the coming years.

"Our industry has aggressively planted citrus trees over the last eight to nine years, following the series of freezes that we had," Behr said. "The trees that were planted are beginning to come into bearing age, so we're expecting larger crops over the next several years. There should be plentiful supplies of orange juice and good values for the consumer."