Facts You Didn't Know About Florida's Natural Orange Juice

Chances are as a child you probably had one brand of orange juice that you would always drink over the others. Whether it was Simply Orange, Tropicana, or Florida's Natural, orange juice seems to make an appearance somewhere along the way through your youngest years. Some might make a switch with their brand loyalty as they grow up, but for many, freshly squeezing a bag of oranges is still the only way to go.

While avid orange juice drinkers will probably insist that all orange juice is far from the same thing, others might be content with any vitamin C-rich drink. As it turns out, those who believe all orange juice brands are different are not wrong. However, Florida's Natural orange juice probably has a few more interesting facts than most brands. From a role in World War II to facing a legal battle, Florida's Natural is far from what meets the eye in the refrigerated aisle of your grocery store.

Florida's Natural will always taste the same

While you've likely noticed that different brands of orange juice taste different, you probably haven't thought about why that is. Just like freshly squeezed orange juice, or even just eating regular oranges, each fruit has a slightly different sweetness or juiciness level. It's because each brand of orange juice does actually follow a recipe and they add what's called "flavor packs" (via Smithsonian Magazine). Even if the brand claims to use nothing but pure orange juice, it's the flavor packs that set each brand apart.

According to Open Pasture Meats, orange juice is kept in holding tanks where the oxygen is eliminated from the juice after it is squeezed from the fruit. Oxygen or exposure to air causes oxidation, and oxidation causes the orange juice to age and eventually go bad (via Online Library). By removing the oxygen from the juice, the manufacturers can keep the juice stored for around a year without any negative effects. The problem is the process of removing the oxygen also takes away a lot of the flavor and aroma you would associate with orange juice.

This is where flavor packs come in. They're made by fragrance companies with oranges' essence and oil. This means that the orange juice can still be labeled as "natural" even though there's a lot of chemistry involved. The flavor packs are made specifically for each individual brand, like Florida's Natural, though many are based on the taste and smell of Florida Valencia oranges during springtime (via Civil Eats).

The brand faced a class-action lawsuit

According to Open Pasture Meats, orange juice companies don't have to list the flavor packs as an ingredient because they are derived from orange byproducts. However, they do introduce chemicals to the altered juice. It was another chemical that landed Florida's Natural in court, though. Customers of Florida's Natural Orange Juice filed a class-action lawsuit in 2018, according to Top Class Action.

The representative plaintiff, Alexandra Axon, claimed that the juice isn't natural and that the brand falsely advertised itself as so. She explained that glyphosate, which is a biocide that occurs in pesticides used to kill weeds, was in the product after having Florida's Natural tested. She extended her claims to many of Florida's Natural products too. Axon claimed that she and other consumers were willing and had paid more for Florida's Natural because they believed it was free of chemicals. Therefore, they overpaid for something that was misrepresented in Axon's eyes. 

According to one of the defendants, in May of 2020, a New York federal appeals court dismissed the case. The court stated that the use of "natural" in the brand's name was not a misrepresentation of the product (via Citrus Industry).

Florida's Natural has a connection to World War II

During World War II, the army made it clear that vitamin C should be a priority in soldier's rations in order to prevent scurvy (via WUSF News). While most Army and Navy meals were built to deliver calories more so than nutrition, orange juice became the vehicle for delivering the necessary vitamin. Since fresh citrus could not make the journey all across the world to soldiers before it expired, the Army turned to canned orange juice, which was far from a staple in the home around 1942.

That's when Florida became one of the biggest orange producers in the country. "We were largely a grapefruit industry prior to the 1940s. It was the emergence of orange juice during the war effort and then following that with frozen concentrate that really put orange juice on the map here in this country. Before long, it was on everybody's breakfast table," Florida's Natural CEO Bob Behr said. Just before the war ended, Florida's Natural along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture had just invented frozen concentrate orange juice.

You can visit Florida's Natural Growers

During World War II, an extra 100,000 acres of orange groves were planted, according to WUSF News. Citrus World, which is across Lake Effie from Florida Natural's visitor center, was actually constructed by prisoners of war being held in Florida. Today, people can visit Florida Natural's visitor center in Lake Wales, Florida.

The visitors center, also known as the Grove House, is surrounded by the groves of orange trees and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every week from Monday to Friday (via Florida's Natural). Naturally, visitors to the Grove House can try a selection of Florida's Natural juices. Of course, there's a gift shop too, so you'll likely want to pick up a souvenir or two. You might be surprised at the collection in the gift shop too. Items range from folk art and candy to infused oils and cleaning supplies — many of which include Florida citrus, obviously!

Florida's Natural cartons can be hard to recycle

Many people are trying to be more eco-minded these days, and if you've ever heard all of the talk about trying to recycle paper coffee cups, the issue with orange juice cartons is similar (via Recycle Coach). Florida's Natural comes packaged in paper cartons that have a polyethylene lining (via Florida's Natural). Polyethylene is a thermoplastic polymer that prevents the container from spilling and leaking the orange juice inside (via Creative Mechanisms). That's also the same kind of lining that your to-go coffee cup has (via Food Print).

While these items can ultimately be recycled, it takes a lot more effort and the right circumstances. Even Florida's Natural explains, "all materials used are recyclable; however, facilities for handling the recycling may not exist in some areas." So, if you hope to recycle your orange juice container, you'll need to do some extra homework and leg work to ensure it is successfully completed.