Photo credit by Half Chinese
Because of a flood in the market, the cranberry industry was in serious trouble just eight years ago. Many farmers were going out of business and the prices were at all-time lows.
The solution to the cranberry farmers problem? Find a new market for their product. So, the Cranberry Growers Association set out to take their product into foreign markets. As a result, about thirty percent of American grown cranberries were exported, resulting in about $133 million in sales.
The Cranberry Growers Associations are now almost totally focused on the international markets and even with a near record Crop this year, the demand is almost greater than the supply. Cranberry farmers are now looking for more acreage to grow their crops; and Ocean Spray, the largest cranberry processing corporation in America, has opened a huge new processing plant in Wisconsin to help meet demand.
Cranberries have flourished so well in foreign markets that the industry is in the process of developing products that are unique to certain foreign countries. No longer is the cranberry a distinctly American food.
The harvesting of cranberries is a very unique operation, where the cranberry plants rise to the top of a flooded bog and the berries are raked off with special machinery. Each fall hundreds of journalists, both foreign and domestic, are invited to Massachusetts or central Wisconsin to witness the harvesting process.
Asian markets are a particularly big part of the cranberry industries business, accounting for about five percent of Ocean Spray's overseas sales. In Asia foods are looked at as medicine and the Cranberry has become world renowned for it's health benefits.
Australia, Great Britain, Canada, and Germany consume the most cranberries of all foreign markets. But not all foreign markets were so easy to accept the cranberry. For example, in Spanish the word cranberry does not exist so marketers in Spain began calling the fruit “arandano rojo,” which translates as “red blueberry” in Spanish, a clever but somewhat misleading moniker.
In hopes of making the cranberry more appealing to other foreign markets Ocean Spray has developed a sweetened dried cranberry. This development makes it easier to add the fruit to baked dishes and other deserts. The French enjoy a blend of cranberry juice and mango juice, and it has gradually become one of the country's more popular beverages.
The cranberry's remarkable makeover has made it a profitable and marketable product that appeals to consumers in foreign markets and in the United States. After all, you can't make a cosmopolitan without cranberry juice.