Commodity giant Louis Dreyfus launches its own juice brand

By Thomson Reuters Mar 12, 2024 | 9:30 AM

PARIS (Reuters) – Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) has launched its own juice brand, starting in France, seeking to use its orange production in Brazil to tap into demand for fresh and traceable fruit juices, the agricultural commodity group said on Tuesday.

LDC is a global trader and processor of farm goods from sugar to cotton, and estimates it is one of the world’s three largest orange juice suppliers, supported by its plantations and factories in Brazil.

The Montebelo Brasil label, named after one of its Brazilian plantations, is the first LDC-owned juice brand. The group sees room at the premium end of the market despite shoppers facing price hikes linked to orange harvest setbacks, executives told reporters in Paris.

The brand went on sale last week and should reach 3,000 French supermarkets by the end of the year, with LDC aiming for 10% share of the fresh juice category within three to four years, Aurelien Grisval, head of downstream markets at LDC’s juices division, said.

Brazilian agriculture is often blamed for deforestation and at the heart of French opposition to a trade deal between the European Union and South American bloc Mercosur.

But Brazilian citrus fruit, grown in the southeast of the country, is viewed positively by consumers and LDC hopes to bolster that image through full traceability for its pure orange juice and Brazilian recipes for multi-fruit versions, Grisval said.

Juice sales volumes in France have declined in the past year, particularly in the fresh category, as record orange juice commodity prices have been felt in shops alongside inflation in other breakfast staples like coffee and cocoa.

The orange juice market, dominated by Brazil, has been roiled by adverse weather and a bacterial disease called greening that have hit orange harvests.

Brazil may face another disappointing orange crop next season, potentially below 300 million 40.8-kg boxes like in 2023/24, after a heatwave a few months ago, Grisval said.

(Reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by Mark Potter)