Feeling the squeeze? How juice brands are dealing with an orange shortage

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Pic:getty/fcafotodigital
Pic:getty/fcafotodigital

Related tags Orange juice Citrus Florida Fruit Brazil

The world’s top orange production regions are struggling: putting pressure on the global supply of oranges for the juice industry. Beverage brands are finding innovative ways to deal with high costs and shortages.

The vast majority of the world’s orange juice is produced in just two countries: the US and Brazil. In fact, Florida and São Paulo together account for more than 85% of global supply. But citrus greening disease is plaguing the fruit in both the US and Brazil, while severe drought in Brazil is adding to the complications.

Orange production in Brazil - the world's largest producer and exporter of orange juice - is expected to hit its lowest level in more than three decades over 2024-2025, according to newly published figures​ from research center Fundecitrus this month. That adds to four consecutive seasons of small crops from the country.

That’s contributing to orange juice scarcity and – as a knock-on-effect – price rises. Orange juice is at its lowest availability for more than 50 years, according to the British Fruit Juice Association, who warns that shortages could remain for a while.

Quick-thinking brands are finding ways to adapt.

From oranges to mandarins

coldpress mandarin

UK HPP pioneer Coldpress is launching a mandarin juice to offer consumers the same benefits of orange juice – but with mandarins.

Citing a 40% increase in orange juice prices so far this year, the brand turned its attention to Spanish mandarins.

The company has its own HPP facility in Spain, and so was able to transition from Valencia oranges to mandarins.

“It’s worth noting that mandarins are a fantastic, low calorie fruit, jam-packed with beneficial vitamins and minerals,” said Andrew Gibb, founder and managing director of the brand.

“Alongside the all-important vitamin C, which ably supports one’s daily immune system function, mandarins contain enviable quotas of two antioxidant phytochemicals (beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin) that your body turns to vitamin A, which supports good vision, a healthy immune system and positive growth development.”

The brand is able to sell mandarin juice at the same price as its apple juice - which is now 15% cheaper than its orange juice.

And there could be further opportunity: mandarins are less tied to the breakfast occasion than oranges, meaning Coldpress sees the opportunity to expand occasions beyond breakfast and to more occasions. 

“The deliciously distinct sweetness of mandarins also supports our juice’s expanding ‘beyond breakfast’ appeal, a positive outcome (wider all-day family usage, mocktails….), fuelled by a growing appetite for healthier living offerings,” said Gibb.

The 750ml mandarin juices are available in Lidl, Aldi and Ocado as well as independent outlets.

'Unprecedented' situation in orange juice market

Orange juice demand could outstrip supply this summer as major producers in Brazil, Florida and southern Europe deal with the challenges such as adverse weather and diseases.

Global orange juice production in 2023-2024 was 10% lower​ than the five-year average.

That consequently has pushed up the price of orange juice: Brazilian orange juice concentrate prices were up 130% yoy (to January 31) according to Mintec's Benchmark Prices (MBP).

"Crop shortages caused by a range of factors including plant disease have created an unprecedented situation in the orange juice market," said a spokesperson for the British Soft Drinks Association.

"Producers are trying to find efficiencies to help absorb and avoid passing significant price rises onto consumers but inevitably there has been some inflation on the product due to the chronic difficulties around obtaining oranges for juicing.

"It should be noted that most other juice products are not seeing the same shortages of their constituent fruit."

Diversifying portfolios

In the US, top organic orange juice company Uncle Matt’s is innovating outside its flagship orange juice area with new launches in teas and workout wellness shots.

For the brand, innovating outside orange juice has become a necessity it wants to continue to grow.

“Orange juice, right now, we are… at a lull as a category, while Uncle Matt’s and organic is growing,” said founder and CEO Matt McLean. “If citrus greening is still three, five, seven years away from being solved, we have to be innovative and come up with other things to keep that category and keep the refrigerated cold juice, tea and beverage set relevant to shoppers.”

uncle matt

Debuting at Expo West in March​ was a portfolio of teas, which will launch on shelves in July with a sweetened and unsweetened version and a half lemonade and half black tea SKU. It has also unveiled a Ginger Honey Lemonade, with is lightly sweetened with stevia as with the brand’s other lemonades.

These join an expanded line of wellness shots (the 2 oz shot was formulated in collaboration with the Denver Broncos' in-house chef and is a proprietary blend of organic beets, orange juice, coconut water, ginger, and lemon juice).

Ultimately, says McLean, expanding outside orange juice simply makes sense for the brand.

“In orange juice, it is just one staple in that platform, and especially on our refrigerated platform.

"And so that has been a great spot for us to get in front of the consumer, and that is our expertise, but from there, it can lead you into a whole lot of other innovative ideas."

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