LAKELAND, Fla. (FNS) -- Grapefruit juice sales are rising significantly for the first time in decades, due to improvements in product taste, according to the Florida Department of Citrus.
Sales of grapefruit juice rose to 4.2 million gallons in May, a 16.8% increase over the same period a year ago, according to figures released by the agency.
"The improved quality and taste of Florida grapefruit juice are resulting in the first increases [in sales] we've seen in decades," said Daniel L. Santangelo, executive director of the FDOC, based here.
The improvements in quality are attributed, in part, to technological advancements in production. Also assisting sales are an aggressive media campaign and other promotional efforts to move the category toward the center of consumer attention.
On the public relations side, the department engaged Denise Austin, a nationally recognized fitness expert, to serve as spokesperson for grapefruit juice.
Television ads have been supporting in-store promotions in 20 markets, mostly along the Atlantic seaboard and throughout the Midwest. The Department typically targets its media push for January and springtime.
"This campaign has turned around a downturn in sales, which we had seen for over a decade," said Philip Lesser, the FDOC's director of economic and market research.
Lesser said that retailers participating wholeheartedly in promotional campaigns are reaping the greatest benefits.
"Those adding facings and participating in the program are, on average, seeing a 30% increase in sales of grapefruit juice. Those who offer a limited selection, without expansion, are having flat to downward sales," Lesser pointed out.
"For consumers to be able to buy grapefruit juice, retailers have to have product selections and size offerings," he said.
Florida orange juice sales also are on the rise, with 60.3 million gallons being sold in May -- an all-time record for that month.
Sales of not-from-concentrate orange juice also are breaking records. Volume jumped 16.2%, to 19.3 million gallons, during a four-week period ending May 16, setting a new standard for sales in that period.