My, what a long flu season it’s been. Sick bodies everywhere one turns. Stuffy noses honking like an inescapable symphony. Awful. But it’s proven to be a boon for an industry riddled with slumping sales: orange juice, baby!
Sales of that lip-smackingly acidic jus d'orange, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, rose by 0.9 percent within the United States over the course of the four weeks ending on January 20. The spike has resulted in the industry's first year-over-year increase in monthly orange juice sales since 2013, according to data gathered from Nielsen. Quite a feat.
These recent stats are particularly noteworthy once you consider the extent to which Hurricane Irma ravaged crops in Florida, a state that produces more oranges than any other in the country. There’s also been an ongoing outbreak of citrus greening, a nasty ailment that makes oranges misshapen and rancid before wiping out trees altogether. These two problems have led prices of orange juice to increase on average, therefore making it less attractive to consumers than other drinks that may come at cheaper price points.
You may believe we’re well past the dumb days when Americans uncritically guzzled this beverage as if it were an elixir for their shittiest ills, but that myth clearly continues to persist in times of desperation. As the Journal notes, there’s a flimsy-at-best link between drinking orange juice and safeguarding your body against the flu. Its palliative properties are largely unproven.
Orange juice's high sugar levels nearly nullify its vitamin C and potassium content, so much that a glass of plain water with a pinch of vitamin C from a lemon or orange wedge might be a safer bet for fortifying your immune system.
The Journal suggests that this temporary trend doesn’t bode super well for the orange juice industry moving forward, as it struggles to retain customers and endear others to a product that’s so rich in sugar. “Retailers are cutting space for orange juice,” Brandon Saltmarsh, owner of Florida-based juice company HomeMakerJuice, told the Journal. “They are replacing it with iced coffee, probiotics. It’s a trend that is starting to really hurt the category.”
A more defensible way to buffer against the flu than drinking orange juice is likely just getting a flu vaccine, though, sorry—no matter how you spin it, that doesn’t taste nearly as good.