Two Minute Tips

The business of cranberries: 4 story ideas

November 1, 2016

Share this article:

The humble cranberry delivers a good story. (Image by "WikiImages" via pixabay)
The humble cranberry delivers a good story. (Image by "WikiImages" via pixabay)

As Thanksgiving approaches, business reporters ought to start thinking about the cranberry industry and features around this small but powerful fruit. This blog outlines the important themes and news.

The core producers

Wisconsin produces 60 percent of the U.S.’s cranberry production, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Massachusetts is the next highest producer followed by New Jersey. Wisconsin and Québec are two newer regions producing cranberries. According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, Americans consume around 400 million pounds of cranberries annually—20 percent during Thanksgiving week. The forecast for the 2016 cranberry crop is 8.59 million barrels, up slightly from 2015.

Massachuetts’ cranberry crisis

Cranberries have been cultivated in Massachusetts for 200 years. Historians report that Native Americans showed the pilgrims how to use cranberries for food and how to extract their dye for blankets, clothes and textiles. The state is experiencing a serious drought that jeopardizes the farmers’ ability to flood the bogs. According to this report, for the industry to stabilize, production must become more efficient, producers must make better use of cranberry bogs and the industry as a whole must become more viable for producers.

The original superfood

As Web M.D. reports, cranberries are loaded with vitamin C and fiber, and out-do any fruit or vegetable in terms of antioxidants. Native Americans used to incorporate cranberries into pemmican, a survival cake. The vitamin-rich fruits traveled abroad whaling ships to help ward off scurvy, and cranberries helped sustain troops during World War II, when American troops required 1 million pounds of dried cranberries a year.

A brand evolution

Ocean Spray, a $2 billion cooperative of cranberry growers with 700 grower-owners, started in 1930. Cranberry juice cocktail, its first juice blend, launched in 1964 and became a huge success, triggering new blends to follow. Craisins—dried, sweetened cranberries—were first introduced in the late 1980s as ingredients for breakfast bars and cereals. After Ocean Spray marketers positioned them as healthy snack foods, the Craisin business took off and is now worth $400 million a year.


Reporter’s Takeaway

• The  industry has shifted from its east coast roots to Wisconsin, which now produces 60 percent of U.S. cranberries. There’s a cranberry crisis in Massachusetts, the fruit’s first home, where drought, combined with inefficient production, challenges farmers.

• Cranberries are loaded with vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants. Their health benefits have helped  Native Americans, whalers and World War II soldiers.

• Today, Ocean Spray, the world’s largest cooperative of cranberry growers with over 700 grower-families, uses cranberries in juice and juice blends, but one of its biggest success is Craisins.

More Like This...

Is there growth in gardening?

As the pandemic forced people to spend more time at home, one activity many have turned to is gardening. A Reuters article published in 2020 found that there are a

Two Minute Tips

Sign up now.
Get one Tuesday.

Every Tuesday we send out a quick-read email with tips for business journalism.

Subscribers also get access to the Tip archive.

Get Two Minute Tips For Business Journalism Delivered To Your Email Every Tuesday

Two Minute Tips

Every Tuesday we send out a quick-read email with tips for business journalism. Sign up now and get one Tuesday.

Our New Look
The Reynolds Center for Business Journalism is starting 2023 with a new look that we hope better illustrates our core mission to provide accurate and authoritative resources about business journalism, in order to help both reporters and news consumers understand the importance of business news and to demystify the sometimes arcane topics it covers.
Businesses, markets, and economies move in cycles – ups and downs – which is why our new logo contains a “candlestick” chart representing increases as well as downturns, and serves as a reminder that volatility is an unavoidable attribute of modern life. But it’s also possible to prepare for volatility by being well informed, and informing the general public to help level the information playing field is the primary goal of business journalism. The Reynolds Center is committed to supporting that goal, which is why the candlestick pattern in our logo merges directly into the name of our founding sponsor, Donald W. Reynolds.
Our new logo comes with a shorter name. Business is borderless, and understanding the global links in supply chains, trade, and flows of funds and people is essential to make sense of our fast-paced, globalized world. So we’re dropping the word “National” from our name and will aim to provide content that is applicable to business news globally.
We hope you like the new look. Best wishes for 2023!