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Tropicana’s Pure Premium returns to Florida oranges

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 19-Jan-2012

PepsiCo is returning to using only Florida oranges in its Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice, saying that its decision was based on more people becoming interested in where their food comes from, rather than recent concerns over fungicide traces.

The company said its decision was made several months ago, before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found low levels of the fungicide carbendazim in orange juice from Brazil. The fungicide is prohibited for use on oranges, although trace amounts are allowed in some other foods, including some fruits.

Both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, which makes Minute Maid orange juice, have said they have found carbendazim in juice sourced from Brazil.

“We made the decision several months ago to transition to 100 percent Florida orange juice,” a Tropicana spokesperson told FoodNavigator-USA. “This transition to production for Tropicana Pure Premium is well under way and will be completed by the end of the month. As the largest buyer of Florida oranges, this is a minor supply adjustment for our Tropicana Pure Premium product.”

She said that other Tropicana brands use a blend of Florida and Brazilian oranges, and the blend changes depending on seasonal availability and the weather, in order to ensure consistent juice quality.

Regarding the return to Florida-only oranges for Tropicana Pure Premium, she added: “Our decision was based on people becoming increasingly more interested in where their food comes from. Many US consumers care that their 100 percent OJ is made with Florida oranges.”

The price of orange juice futures hit a 34-year high last week, after the FDA said it would increase testing of oranges for carbendazim and block imports of the fruit containing even low levels of the fungicide. Prices have since fallen back to more normal levels.

US Department of Agriculture economist Kristy Plattner said: “Historically imports are higher than exports for OJ. For 2010, 254 million gallons were imported compared to 220 million gallons exported.”

Brazil is the biggest exporter of orange juice to the US, while Canada is the United States’ biggest market for exports.

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