Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate May Become a Thing of the Past
RIP tubes of OJ
In a world where fresh, natural, and "real" rule the breakfast table, it appears that the market for frozen orange juice concentrate is not only a thing of the past, but that it may become extinct entirely. Those small, cylindrical canisters of frozen juice slush that you may or may not have begged your parents to buy at the grocery store aren't moving off the shelves like they used to. Consumers aren't buying orange juice concentrate the same way they did in the past, farmers are battling diseased crops, and Florida's orange farmers face the possibility that one major hurricane could destroy what's left of the state's industry.
The orange juice concentrate market wasn't always this anemic. The process for making frozen orange juice concentrate was developed in 1948 at the University of Florida, which allowed juice manufacturers to ship more of their wares out of the state. This innovation led orange juice concentrate to become big business—it became a Wall Street commodity soon after, with traders buying and selling futures on the market. But the orange juice market in the United States is drying up: People have bought less juice every year for the last decade. And in 2015, orange juice sales hit their lowest point in since 2000. People are less interested in sugary beverages and have turned their nose up at products that don't have the look and feel of natural goodness. Neither of these trends bode well for a tube of frozen juice slush.
Making matters worse, farmers are dealing with a devastating crop infection that could wipe out Florida's orange juice market entirely. The bacterial disease, known as citrus greening, causes citrus crops to become bitter and inedible. There is no known cure for the disease yet, and it has ravaged most of Florida's citrus groves while researchers look for new ways to battle the contagion. In the interim, however, it has caused many growers to scale back on their production, which has led to layoffs and shuttered family farms.
But even if citrus greening is conquered, the market for orange juice concentrate isn't likely to recover. Consumers have moved away from the product in favor of more natural-looking, health-centric beverages like coconut water, seltzer, and "healthy" juices like vegetable-based smoothies. The notion of a canned, concentrated beverage seems like an anachronism in a world where photogenic breakfasts and clean eating are the vanguard. The fact that you might have forgotten frozen orange juice concentrate even existed is testament to that. But if you're one of the few who stands by your orange slush, better clear some freezer space and stock up while you still can.