How Orange Juice is Sour

Nov 02, 2017

‘When life throws you lemons, make orange juice. It will leave them wondering how the hell you did it’ – an interesting quote that makes ChangeMakers really think, especially when they look at the orange juice market.

Orange juice is the most popular variety of fruit juice worldwide. (in 2013 the average consumption per capita was 7.8 litres) [i]

Brazil contributes quite a significant share:

  • Grows 1/3 of the worlds oranges
  • Produces ½ of the worlds orange juice
  • Exports 98% of what is produced.

Where does it all go? The European Union imports nearly 2/3’s of their products of which 66% is sold by store brands. (ie: Aldi owned “Rio D’oro” and “Sonnininger”).

And who – is doing all this massive work?

Big stores have been claiming no legal or social responsibility in labourer rights and have shifted their focus to other products resulting in direct environmental consequences. ChangeMakers like us, look beyond. From experience we had in cacao, we can easily draw some parallels and know where to look:

Orange production in Brazil: [ii]

  • Requires the most pesticide use per hectare of all export crops grown in Brazil. ChangeMakers like us wonder about the soil and agroecology effects of such. Also the health of those working in the farms, and the end consumer health.
  • Between 2007 and 2013 the annual number of deaths linked to pesticide poisoning climbed from 132 to 206 which is a significant number in such a short time. Additionally, these are the reported cases, let alone what the unreported numbers are likely to be.
  • Reported cases of human intoxication by pesticides doubled from 2178 to 4537.
  • Pickers work in poor conditions and have no protection for their rights.
  • Wages below standard of living and break families apart.
  • No collective bargaining is allowed and so a fair price for the work is unlikely.
  • Poor worker’s rights for health and conditions.

When ChanageMakers squeeze the orange juice market, a very sour taste comes out. Time to look beyond just organic packaging and further behind the supply chain about what is happening, how it is so systemic and what to do to contribute. Let’s go ChangeMakers, what is the orange juice example in your market?

How are you having a fresh ‘orange juice’ when you know you can do a little better by improving your own supply?



[i] i Annex 1: TETRA PAK. 2010-2013.Worldwide Center for Research and Development and Business. Intelligence. Modena, Italy. Internal database.

[ii] IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística) Censo Agropecuário 2006. Brasil, Grandes Regiões e Unidades da Federação (2006) Rio de Janeiro

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