Anthony T. Rossi

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Anthony Talamo Rossi (September 13, 1900 – January 24, 1993) was an Italian immigrant who founded Tropicana Products, a producer of orange juice founded in 1947 in Bradenton, Florida in the United States which grew from 50 employees to over 8,000 in 2004, expanding into multiple product lines and became one of the world's largest producers and marketers of citrus juice.

Rossi was also an early pioneer in the inclusion of Florida's citrus juices in school meals programs. He also became a noted religiously-oriented businessman, making annual pilgrimages back to Sicily where he helped build a church and mission. In the U.S., he endowed the Aurora Foundation, which has funded various Christian programs.

Tropicana[edit]

In 1947, Rossi purchased a small orange juice company in western Florida and thus began the Tropicana Products company. Tropicana's early distribution of fresh orange juice was by way of hand-delivered juice jars to nearby homes, but demand grew, especially in New York City. In what came to be his trademark business style[citation needed], he approached the challenge at each step of the process: product, transportation, packaging, etc.

A major breakthrough came in 1954, when Rossi invented and patented a pasteurization process to aseptically pack pure chilled juice in glass bottles, allowing it to be shipped and stored without refrigeration. For the first time, it was possible to offer the consumers over a widespread area the fresh taste of orange juice made from 100-percent fruit. Soon thereafter, he also devised a method of freezing pure whole citrus juice in 20-US-gallon (76 L) blocks for storage and shipping.

By 1957, a ship, S.S. Tropicana was taking 1.5 million US gallons (5,700 m3) of juice from Florida to New York each week. In 1970, a mile-long Tropicana Juice Train originating on the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad began carrying 1 million US gallons (3,800,000 L) of juice with one weekly round-trip from Florida to Kearny, New Jersey (in the New York City area). Within a short time, additional weekly trips were required to meet growing demand.

In 1978, Rossi sold Tropicana to Beatrice Foods and retired. There have been more than a few changes over the years. Tropicana, has been through a number of corporate changes and since 1998, is now a division of PepsiCo. It has become the world's leading producer of branded fruit juices.

Christianity[edit]

Rossi grew up with a Catholic background but outside church he was a troublemaker. He had experienced an earthquake in his home town of Messina, Italy and it spurred him to seek information about God, Judgment Day and Heaven. After some time in America and experience with business, Rossi sold his large grocery store in preparation to move to the south to take up farming, around which time he began reading the Bible.

He and his first wife joined the First Methodist Church in Florida in 1941. He and his wife joined Calvary Baptist in Bradenton Florida in 1965. He traveled back home to Italy annually from 1952, and in 1966 he helped to fund a church and mission there.

In the U.S., after he had sold his Tropicana company to Beatrice Foods, Inc. Rossi established the Aurora Foundation, which has funded Christian educational institutions, missions and other charities.

Legacy[edit]

Rossi was inducted into to the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1987. In addition to his work with product development at Tropicana, his efforts to introduce citrus products into school food programs have also been lauded.

Further reading[edit]

  • Sanna Barlow Rossi, 1986. Anthony T. Rossi, Christian and Entrepreneur: The Story of the Founder of Tropicana (InterVarsity Press). (ISBN 0-8308-4999-8)
  • McPhee, John, 1967. Oranges.

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