The Real Reason More People Are Buying Orange Juice

When you're sick, or afraid of becoming sick, what do you most want to eat and drink? You want something comfortable, something familiar, and something that tastes good, but is also going to help you feel better. And what did your mom always tell you to drink in order to keep from catching cold? Not a Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew, not a Melón Pomelo LaCroix, and not even a kale smoothie (healthy though that might be). Probably not a Jim Beam hot toddy, either, unless your mom was super-old school (and kind of badass). No, Mom always told you to be sure to drink plenty of orange juice so you'd get enough vitamin C to fight off a cold or any other kind of nasty germs lurking out there.

And drink it you did, even if Mom might not have approved of how much champagne or vodka you were mixing in — purely for medicinal purposes, of course. Eventually, however, you fell away from your old standby, OJ, since spoilsport nutritionists pointed out it's not really all that healthy and it's best to limit consumption of this beverage. Now, however, the whole world has gone bonkers, and there's nothing you crave more than a nostalgic, yet germ-fighting, comfort drink, and once again, it's orange juice to the rescue!

Orange juice is popular once again

Orange juice sales, which had been declining steadily over the past decade, suddenly surged 38 percent during the month of March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic panic swept the nation. The Florida Department of Citrus reported a 100 percent increase in demand. Shannon Shepp, the department's executive director, told CNN Business the sales spike was "unforeseen and significant," but it comes at a good time. A disease called "citrus greening" was destroying orange crops, keeping supplies low and prices high for 10-plus years, but over the past year, Florida growers have made great strides towards combating that disease.

Not to mention the fact that sky-high prices on any kind of staple food are par for the course in late winter/early spring 2020, so orange juice being on the expensive side is suddenly a non-issue. In fact, OJ in its frozen form is now one of the hottest commodities in a slumping stock market — NPR says that futures are up 25 percent over the past month, in line with Shepp's predictions that "there will be a considerable increase in the short-run demand for orange juice."

If the OJ's all gone by the time you get to the grocery store, don't worry. You can get vitamin C from plenty of other sources, like red peppers, kiwi, broccoli, and strawberries (via the National Institutes of Health). You'll be making do as best you can, and mom will surely be proud of your commitment to getting those vital nutrients under the most difficult of circumstances.