Despite a predicted drop in citrus production across Florida, orange juice sales are tracking up. And according to the News Service of Florida, the industry wants lawmakers to maintain current amounts of state marketing and research funding next fiscal year.
Meanwhile, efforts to combat citrus greening disease could soon lead to a new University of Florida-backed variety of citrus on the market.
Michael Rogers, director and professor at the University of Florida IFAS Citrus Research & Education Center, said among new varieties that are more tolerant to citrus greening is a “Gator Bites” brand.
The bites look similar to the California clementines commonly known by the brand names cuties or halos. But, Rogers said the Florida variety has a sweeter taste without an increase in sugar content.
Noting the research efforts, Florida Citrus Commission Executive Director Shannon Shepp, after addressing members of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday, said the agency has requested $17 million in “base” funding for next fiscal year, the same as in the current year.
In her presentation, Shepp said money is being used to continue a marketing campaign that started just before the COVID-19 pandemic, promoting the health aspects of orange juice as “The Original Wellness Drink.”