Retail orange juice sales rose to the highest levels seen since 2015 in April as the COVID-19 pandemic prompted stay-at-home orders and business closures.

According to USDA's Economic Research Service and Florida Department of Citrus A.C. Nielsen Sales data, retail stores sold 44.5 million gallons of orange juice in April. The only time in the last 5 years sales were higher was in January 2015, when over 45 million gallons were sold.

“One reason for the increase is that U.S. consumers may have sought methods to increase their intake of vitamin C, a nutrient commonly believed to build up a healthy immune system,” the Economic Research Service said in a release.

The average price of frozen concentrate orange juice grew 5% from March to April, ending up at $2.40 per 12-ounce can. According to the release, U.S. consumption of orange juice declined 40% between 2010 and 2019, bottoming out at 2.25 gallons per capita.

“The decrease in orange juice purchases is attributable to both demand and supply-side factors. Research has indicated that declining consumer interest in sugary beverages may be contributing to reduced purchases,” the release stated. “On the supply side, citrus greening disease, an insect-borne illness, has decimated the Florida orange juice industry, decreasing bearing acreage of juice oranges by 30 percent since 2005.”

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