What is in this article?:
• The inspiration for the juice company Marygrace Sexton founded came in 1989.
• She credits her husband, Robert Sexton, a fourth generation Florida citrus grower who, with his family, runs a packing house at Vero Beach, for planting the thought in her head.
• The idea was to have a premium value-added orange juice, all Florida, all the time. Florida oranges are the best juicing oranges in the world.
JOHN MARTINELLI, left, Orchid Island Juice Company’s executive vice-president, was his sister Marygrace Sexton’s only fulltime employee when she started the business.
Residual pesticide testing
“For international customers, we are required to do residual pesticide testing. They also have tighter specifications on Brix ratio. They know varieties, too. They might want Valencias blended with Hamlins, or Hamlins blended with Pineapples. Then they might want straight Valencia juice. Whatever they want, we work with them.”
The company’s international business grew right through the global economic recession.
“We found that even in the bad economy, people are willing to pay for a premium gourmet product,” Tranchilla says.
Just how premium is Orchid Island’s juice? It often retails for about double the price of juice products marketed by the industry’s bigger brands.
The company expanded its product line and now sells all-Florida grapefruit juice, as well as tangerine, lemon, lime, organic orange, strawberry and lemonade juice.
Marygrace continues to insist on using Florida products, not always a simple easily attainable goal.
“We buy every Florida lemon we can find. We’re the only company that does unpasteurized lemon juice. A Japanese customer really wants that juice. The Seminoles used to be responsible for the lemon crop. Now lemons are hard to find. We bought every lemon grown in Florida two years ago. Last year there were virtually none. We’re buying, if anybody has lemons,” she says.
“There’s no lime crop here any more, so we had to go to Mexico for limes. A nice family there provides us with lime juice. We may have to do something like that with lemon juice. Whatever lemons we can get from Florida, we’ll use. Then, California, and then the balance from Mexico.”
The company received Made in USA certification verified by the Federal Trade Commission, assuring that everything the company produces, even the packaging, is made in America.
“We do everything we can to support U.S. workers,” Marygrace says.
In addition, the juice is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union.
“Our packaging is made in Orlando. Our peel gets trucked to cattle here in the area. Our jugs and bottles are recycled,” she says.
She believes the future for her products as well as the company looks bright.
“Consumers have been so good to us. We have good relationships with them. The company is well positioned. We have no outside debt. We don’t owe one soul a dime,” she says.
“I’m very optimistic about the citrus industry. I believe in it. Our goal is to continue to be a really, really great citrus juice company. We’re going to be all Florida, all the time. We’ll be squeezing oranges until the last Florida orange is gone.”