When handed lemons, the old saying goes, make lemonade.
When it comes to Florida’s beleaguered citrus industry, when nature hands you a bad crop, make cereal.
Wednesday is National Orange Juice Day, and just in time for the celebration, Bradenton-based Tropicana introduced Tropicana Crunch, billed as “the first cereal made for OJ” – and, the company added, “maybe the last.”
“Orange juice on cereal. Some call it weird. Some call it breakfast. We . . . didn’t even know it was a thing,” Tropicana said in a press release.
“But turns out, there are totally normal people amongst us juicing up their cereal bowls. You might be one of them!”
“So for those who are cereal curious like us, we made Tropicana Crunch. Cereal that’s down to be drowned in OJ. Honey almond clusters that are made to be spooned and sipped. A breakfast taste test we can all take together.”
“Because whether you hate it or love it, you won’t know until you try it,” Tropicana’s statement continued.
“Tropicana Crunch: It may not be for everyone (but it could be for you!)”
“Prepare your mind and cereal bowl for an unforgettable breakfast experience.”
Tropicana led sales among refrigerated OJ brands in 2021, according to the website Statistia, racking up nearly $1.1 billion in sales. That was nearly 20 percent better than its next best-selling competitor.
That was mostly fed by increased demand for OJ during the pandemic. Last August, for instance, the Florida Citrus Department reported that sales of OJ, while down a bit compared to the same period in 2020, were still running ahead of volume in August 2017.
But as The Free Press reported in April, the latest orange-crop forecast put this season’s output at a level not seen since before World War II.
Currently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects the crop to amount to 38.2 million boxes of oranges the smallest output since 1938.
Two decades ago, Florida’s groves produced 230 million boxes of oranges.
Many of Florida’s citrus growers, whose crop became an integral part of Florida’s identity as a state, have thrown in the towel.
They’ve surrendered in the face of groves tormented by vicious and seemingly incurable citrus-greening disease, as well as to pressure from developers who have planted single-family homes on a landscape once dotted with orange trees.