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Americans souring on one-time breakfast staple

Remember orange juice? If you're like many Americans, you have fond memories of gulping down a glass at breakfast, but aren't actually drinking much of the stuff these days.

Orange juice sales fell to their lowest level ever for the four weeks ended August 2, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing data from the Florida Department of Citrus. While sales of orange juice have been slipping for years, last month represented a particularly sharp decline, with sales down 9.2 percent from a year earlier. Sales slipped to 34.96 million gallons for the four-week period, the lowest since starting to track the data in 2002.

So what's happened to America's one-time breakfast staple? Orange juice is getting squeezed on a few fronts, including competition from fresher-sounding juices (pomegranate, anyone?) and the tight consumer pocketbook. A can of frozen orange juice concentrate now costs an average of $2.55 at the supermarket. That's more than one-third higher than a decade ago, partly thanks to citrus greening disease, which is hurting orange production.

And that price is for the lower-cost concentrate. When it comes to fresh-squeezed orange juice, buying a gallon is worse than filling up your gas tank. While a gallon of unleaded will set you back $3.45, the same amount of orange juice costs $6.44.

Why are orange juice sales falling fast?

Efforts to educate Americans about over-consumption of juice and sodas might also be having an impact, with nutritionists urging consumers to turn to water instead of calorie-laden drinks.

On top of that, many Americans are skipping out on breakfast. Back in 1965, 86 percent of Americans ate breakfast, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation. By 2011, only one-third of American adults grabbed a morning meal, according to a survey from cereal maker Kellogg's.

Even though lower prices might lure more shoppers back to their supermarket's juice section, that probably won't happen in the near future. That's because orange growers are coping with citrus greening, a disease that has spread throughout much of Florida since it was first detected there in 2005. The disease causes trees to die within just a few years, and it's likely to result in orange growers producing their smallest crop in half a century, making it unlikely that producers can lower prices, The Journal notes.

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