For Anthony T. Rossi, an Italian immigrant who arrived in the U.S. with just $25, Florida orange juice proved to be liquid gold. Rossi founded Tropicana in Bradenton in 1947, delivering fresh-squeezed juice to local residents. In 1954, he found a way to pasteurize the juice and was soon shipping millions of gallons around the country. Today Tropicana, now a division of PepsiCo, is the world’s largest producer of branded juice. And although citrus greening and changing tastes have reduced consumption in recent years, the average American still drinks more than three gallons of the sweet, sunny-hued beverage a year.
100 percent oranges: A 59-ounce container contains juice from 16 fresh oranges and a tiny amount of natural oils from the peel.
Juice extractors squeeze 34,000 oranges per minute; the plant processes 48 million oranges and fills 2.5 million containers in one day, for a total of 900 million containers per year.
Citrus greening has dropped Florida orange production from 244 million boxes in 1998 to 70 million this season. Florida produces 49 percent of U.S. oranges, just behind California, where greening hasn’t hit commercial groves.
Brazil is the No. 1 orange producer; the U.S. is No. 4, behind China and the European Union.
Tropicana is the No. 1 buyer of Florida oranges—and all Florida fruit.
Taste testers sample and score various aspects of the juice produced every day; only juice that passes all the tests is released.
350 trailers of oranges a day arrive at the Bradenton plant during growing season.