Tropicana Orange Juice

Tropicana Orange Juice

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     Was orange juice always just here? What is the difference between the different types? Why does everyone like it cold? Is it a sustainable product the way Tropicana is running their processing plant? Are there ethical issues with orange juice production?I began to wonder one day as I was looking in the store, in the orange juice aisle. This paper is a journey into orange juice through the popular Orange juice company, Tropicana .I chose this company because this was a juice that I had grown up with .I hope to be able to answer there questions for myself and you ,the reader.
To start orange juice was not always here. It came out of an advertising campaign in the 1920’s. (1)The California Fruit Growers (now known as Sunkist) had been producing too many oranges for the current market. Their supply and demand ratio was off. They needed to find a new use for oranges besides just peeling and consuming them .There was too many oranges being wasted. Orange juice takes three to four oranges for each cup of juice. It was an effective means to use extra oranges.(2)
Through advertising, Sunkist convinced the general public they should drink at least one cup a day. It was called the� Drink an orange campaign.� The benefits of drinking orange , like today, focused on improving one’s health.
Orange juice has a lot of benefits for the body.(3) It contains vitamin c, which is an antioxidant, helps to boost the absorption of iron when combined with foods and is a great tasting away to combat the common cold. There is Folate that helps with DNA formation and helps to lower homocysteine, the chemical associated with heart disease and memory impairment. There is research being done on phytonutrients that are also present in orange juice. They are naturally occurring chemicals such as beta-carotene which is what gives orange juice it’s color. They are considered antioxidants, like vitamin c.There is still research being done on the ones in orange juice and what a required daily requirement should be. Potassium ,another nutrient in orange juice, helps with the fluid - electrolyte balance in cells. The juice contains thiamin and niacin, which helps to convert food to a form of energy the body can use. Vitamin B6 is present and helps in the formation of hemoglobin, the part of the red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body.

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Some orange juices contain calcium, which protects the bones.The consumer just needs to make sure the juice has vitamin D, to help the body absorb calcium. Now that you know that how good it is for you, let me share how it is made.
The type of juice I looked at was the prepared gallon size container of Tropicana Juice.(4)It is more expensive than frozen concentrate. You can actually ship six times the amount of frozen juice concentrate for each gallon container of prepared juice.
It comes two ways, From Concentrate and Not From Concentrate. For the gallon from concentrate the company extracts the fluid during the processing and creates a concentrated form of orange juice paste. To the concentrated form they add plain water, and the oil extracted during processing to stabilize it. One needs to consider the quality of the water that is added. Florida where Tropicana plant is located is having problems with keeping up their water quality. For the Not From Concentrate juice, they do not extract the fluid or add back in the oil. The company just extracts the juice and it is the more expensive of the two. The prepared not from concentrate and from concentrate juices became popular in the 1990’s after the Odwalla crisis.(5)(It is mentioned further in the paper in more detail.) I will go more into the processing as I introduce you the steps in orange juice making.
Tropicana uses several different varieties of oranges in the making of their orange juice.(6)Some varieties in particular that they use are Early Gold,Tabor,Ruby and Westin .Theses varieties came from overseas and were genetically modified, to fit the climate of Florida.This was done through a contract with the University of Florida.Oranges .In general,oranges grow on large trees, similar to apple trees. The proper term for where they are grown is called a grove.
The majority of oranges in Florida are hand picked.Tropicana does not own their own groves so they have contracts with pickers ,in the area.(7)I was not able to get any information on which groves Tropicana uses.
Tropicana contracts for Florida certified oranges for their juice.(8)To determine whether the oranges can be certified ,at the time of picking in the grove,a random sampling of oranges is picked and tested.The juice is squeezed.When tested the juice they are looking for the sugar and acid levels.When added together if the percentage falls within the accepted range, the oranges can be certified and picked for Tropicana.This level they test,also is what gives the juice it’s flavor.
Once the grove manager gets the O.k.saying they are ready for picking, he contracts out for help pick the fruit.(9) It is not a real sophisticated process.Pickers use canvas bags and ladders to pick the fruit.They are paid by the amount they pick each day.The oranges get dumped into bigger containers which eventually get dumped into tractors that deliver to the processing plant.
Tropicana focuses their efforts on the processing plant. They train their own inspectors to work in the plant.(10) The oranges are loaded on conveyors belts to start the process.(11) The skins of the oranges are washed and they are sent through the juice extractor.The byproduct of this process is large amount of waste water with organic matter-parts of the left over orange. The juice, at that point, has to be flash pasterized by law, because of the Odwalla e-coli and samonella outbreak, in 1996.(12)Were you were wondering why you can not buy fresh juices from the store anymore?.
The orange juice is also packaged in aseptic packaging to prevent spoilage in transportation.(13)The juice is refrigerated in the grocery store because the consumer thinks orange juice to be fresh, has to be cold.
Making orange juice appears to be a sustainable product right now.Tropicana is making money. They are able to pass extra costs in processing to the consumer. The gallon of prepared juice is more expensive than other brands but the consumer is buying it.
Orange juice is a consumer driven industry. Anytime a new diet craze takes over Tropicana is right there trying to match it with a product.(14) With the rush to Atkins, Tropicana created a low carbohydrate diet. With the South Beach Diet, came low sugar juice. As you read on please keep that in mind.The consumer can have some say in the sustainability and ethical issues that are present with orange juice.There are so many different kinds on the market they can buy the kind that supports the sustainability or ethical issue they want to address and change.
There are environmental issues and economic ones that could drive up the cost of orange juice in the future. It is hard to say if the cost would reach a point that the consumer would refuse to pay, making it not sustainable enough for Tropicana to be able to keep producing it. These costs are hard to calculate because of factors that have not been put into place.There does not seem to be any one alternative. There appears to be different logical alternatives based on the different issues.
Growers are reliant on pesticides to grow oranges.Pesticides are applied aerially and through direct application to the trees.(15)The economy of florida is tied to orange growing.The farmers can not afford to let an epidemic of any kind take over that they can control through chemicals.The medfly is a common predator.�There were 123 cases of pesticide poisoning from the medfly eradication program in 1998.�(16)These poisonings were documented as coming from spraying and it is not required to give residents in the area warning before the sparying. Two of the people were poisoned at work as an outdoor security guard and a child outside playing. They just got coated with an aerial spraying from head to foot.
Pesticides contaminate through the skin,the resipitory system,soil or the groundwater. One common used pesticide round up has been documented to cause cancer in humans.(17)This is due to the ingredient Glphosate. The EPA and USDA do not routinely test pesticides that are out on the market. They rely on the information that the manufactor provides.
When looking at the label on the Tropicana Orange juice,it does not list as an organic juice.There are some orange juice venders that a consumer could turn to, that do not deal with the pesticide issue if this bothers you. A consumer could turn to organically labeled orange juice such as from Lakewood Farms.(18)If you can not find this brand, just look fir the organic stamp on the label..
If the wastewater issue bothers you there are alternatives,Original juice Company(19) is attempting to reduce the amount of wastewater they produce by recycling the organic byproducts, the citrus oil and the sugar into useful products.They are citrus cleaning products and molasses.By the fact Tropicana got fined for their illegal dumping of waste water into the Manatee River, they might want to look towards Original Juice Company.
Foreign competition is no threat in the supply of oranges to Tropicana.If you remember Tropicana insists on Florida grown oranges for their juice. The problem is in the way they are picked, that is a competive threat.(20)Most of the groves in Florida have hand pickers because of the trees and the way they are placed in the grove. Mechanical pickers which dominate many foreign markets, are more efficient replacing workers on a ratio of production of ten workers.To be competive with the foreign production rate Florida groves are going to be forced to eventually switch to mechanical pickers . Mechanical picking is coming and there are no sustainable alternatives to this issue.
There are many problems that have to be worked out first before the conversion to mechanical picking can take place..Fruit gets too big after the beginning of May, for the mechanical pickers to be able to shake it off the tree, without causing damage to the limbs.The growers are trying to develop a spray that would make the fruit fall easier without the damage. The way in which the trees are pruned will have to be changed.The groves will need to accommodate the arms of the mechanical pickers as they are embracing the tree, to prevent damage to the tree. The frustrating thing is that there is a lot that has to be done to prepare for the mechanical pickers, besides just investing in the actual pickers. The cost as a result is impossible to determine because the preparation is still being worked on. Tropicana because they do not own their own groves is going to have to just pay whatever price the groves charge them, once the transition happens when they bue the grove’s oranges..
An ethical issue I found was with the pickers in the groves.(21) They are often take advantage of because they cannot fight back. Most of the pickers are illegal and from other countries that do not speak English. The workers are dependent on the groves for work, because it is difficult to get hired anywhere else. They cannot speak our language or they are afraid of being deported. They are limited in being able to complain about mistreatment because of fear of retaliacion from the grove owner.
The only violation I could find was with three groves that Tropicana contracts with in 2002.(22) It involved enslavement of workers. The Citrus Growers involved got “lengthy prison terms.� Tropicana responded by saying “State and federal laws prohibit the abuses that surfaced in the 2002 case but it seems that the feds and the state don't have the resources to enforce the laws. We are not police in terms of the migrant issue."
I could not find an alternative brand that guarantees fair treatment of workers. Florida Natural Orange at least owns their own groves so they are more accountable for the ethical issues of fair treatment that surround the workers(24). Mixon Farm (25)runs tours of the grove they own. It seems like it would be asking for trouble to have violations with the fields open to the public. The owner also work in the fields himself. I did find the Coalition of Immokalee Workers(26) that directly supports the right of migrant workers. On their site you can subscribe to them and track their work.
Economic sustainability is going to be jeopardized with the AgJob bill.It is going to improve the conditions that agricultural workers work in,inturn raising operating costs in the grove.(27) The United Farm Workers is forcing the AgJob bill into Congress, to be voted on. If this bill goes through, overhead costs to run the groves will increase. The bill is requesting things such as workmen comp and higher wages for pickers. It also promises if a picker commits to three years picking, they can become a citizen.The cost will go up for oranges in the grove which will eventually sift down to the consumer,if the bill passes.
It will be hard to gauge the costs to companies like Tropicana. Even if the bill passes the modifications have to be put in place such as workman’s comp and the cost analylized. I could not find an alternative juice company that has similar benefits in place, compared to what this bill would provide for pickers.
As I researched information about the Tropicana Juice Company hopefully I was able to get some clear answers about the different kinds of juices ,and how they are made for you. The company appears to want to remain detached from the treatment of pickers.They will discontinue contracts until violations are fixed but they do not want to go any further. As they said They do not want to be the “Migrant Police.�In terms of the AgBill or other legislation that will improve the conditions of the workers, Tropicana has no choice but to pay the higher price for their oranges as operating costs rise to accommodate workers demands at the groves.
Tropicana Orange Juice appears to be economically sustainable now because they are making a profit. Extra costs in processing can be passed down to the consumer right now and they will be paid in the cost of higher orange juice prices such as with the Not From Concentrate juice. The future is questionable because of events like mechanical picking.With the mechanical picking, the groves are still developing technology such as the spray to make the fruit fall easier.The cost of the technology is unknown at this point so it is difficult to calculate out if Tropicana will be able to still produce the juice and make a profit,in the future.
The juice appears environmentaly sustainable right now. Tropicana seem to have no trouble contracting with groves, to get oranges.They have had only one dumping violation with wastewater. Whether or not Tropicana Orange Juice is sustainable in the future is the question. I was unable to locate any information about what Tropicana is doing with their wastewater, now that they supposedly were not dumping it in the Manatee River.
As more consumer oriented internet sites pop up on the internet such as Tom Paine.Com with news about pesticide poisoning such as the medfly outbreak of 1998,consumers most likely will be likely to reconsider the importance of pesticide spraying.If the consumers organize in their protest of this issue companies like Tropicana could be forced to reconsider, making sure the groves they go to are environmentally friendly.Organic grown oranges are typically higher in price and could thus drive up the cost of orange juice because of the additional costs in growing them.
In my paper I have stated environmental and economical issues that I felt needed to change or be accommodated, to in order for there to be a future for Tropicana juice. It is apparent that consumer demand has a big influence on orange juice production. Consumers could improve the future of the juice by picking an issue to fight. Companies like Tropicana can not stay in business unless the consumer buys their product.Not buying it may force them to change their pratices.
The final question is :How high can the price of orange juice go before Tropicana stops it’s production because they can not make a profit or the consumer refuses to pay the price? The answer is unknown because so many of the variables that will change the sustainabiltity of the product, are still in the making, such as the preparations for mechanical picking.. The most I can this point, is that production costs will have to increase as the demands on the industry are met
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