Florida's Natural Growers
|Headquarters||Lake Wales, Florida, United States|
Florida's Natural Growers was founded in 1933 as Florida Citrus Canners Cooperative. Its initial operations included canning juice and grapefruit sections for its members, and in 1938 began extracting juice with automated machines. During World War II, the company produced concentrated orange juice for the military; after the war, 80% of the juice the company produced was in frozen concentrate form to meet consumer demand for the relatively new, convenient form.
In the 1960s, consumer demand shifted to fresh-squeezed orange juice, and frozen concentrate sales declined while demand for chilled juices increased. In 1969, the cooperative took the name Citrus World and adopted the current name in 1998. It is currently composed of 12 growers: Waverly Growers Cooperative, Lake Placid Cooperative, Ben Hill Griffin Inc., Haines City Citrus Growers Association, Orange Growers Marketing Association, Lake Wales Citrus Growers Association, Hunt Brothers Cooperative, Citrus Marketing Services Inc, Peace River Packing Company, Dundee Citrus Growers Association, Winter Haven Citrus Growers Association, and Umatilla Citrus Growers Association.
In 1987, consumer demand for premium juices that are not made from reconstituted concentrate increased, leading to the creation of the Florida's Natural brand (which would later become the name of the cooperative itself), which consists only of freshly squeezed, pasteurized juice, which contains no additional ingredients. The company also added Ruby Red grapefruit juice to its line of products, and is also known for introducing the resealable pour spout to its cartons, a design which went on to be used throughout the industry for premium juices and other beverages. The company purchased Sun Pac Foods, in 2000 and began shipping premium orange juice to China.
In 2001, the company opened "Grove House", a visitor's center across the street from its Lake Wales, Florida processing plant. Grove House is open daily except Sunday, and is closed from Memorial Day through the last day of September.
Products and Marketing
The cooperative also produces fruit snacks, introduced in 2006. Au'some Snack Naturally, Inc., located in New Jersey, produces Florida's Natural Brand fruit snack line under a brand licensing agreement. These products are currently packaged in China; the fruit juice concentrates used are all from U.S. fruit sources.
The company's primary marketing strategy is to differentiate itself from main competitors Simply Orange, Minute Maid and Tropicana. It does this by emphasizing its cooperative organization ("we own the land, we own the trees, we own the company"). By comparison, Simply Orange and Minute Maid are both owned by Coca-Cola, while Tropicana is owned by PepsiCo. For a long time, it was the only national orange juice maker that used only American-grown fruit (grown by its cooperative members primarily in Polk County, Florida) in its products. Nearly all other juice makers use a mix of domestic and imported citrus fruit.
- "Florida's Natural Growers". Funding Universe. Retrieved 15 May 2010.
- Florida’s Natural Growers Reports Outstanding Financial Results. Vending Market Watch. 26 Nov. 2008.
- "Grove House': A Fruitful Escape for Tourists". News Chief. March 29, 2001.