Cranberries, the iconic North American fall fruit, enjoy a surge in demand leading up to the Thanksgiving Day holiday in November. But when the dinner plates are cleared and the pumpkin pie makes it way to the table, the vibrant red berries have a tendency to fade from view, awaiting their re-emergence the following year.
But Ocean Spray, the grower-owned cooperative based in Lakeville-Middleboro, MA, believes proper promotions and merchandising can help extend the season through the December holiday season.
“After Thanksgiving, there is still a market for cranberries, and we are trying to get retailers on board to help promote them and extend the season,” said Scott Simmons, senior manager of global produce and commodity for Ocean Spray. “We do feel that cranberries are great for seasonal baking and decorating, and our research shows that retailers who do merchandise and feature cranberries in December have stronger overall sales.”
Simmons also believes cranberry sales can be boosted in the early part of the year.
“We continue to push October, because that’s when harvest starts,” he said. “It is an opportunity that some retailers are overlooking, and it is one that they could — and should — capitalize on.”
Simmons said this year’s crop is expected to have excellent color and keeping quality. To help spark demand, Ocean Spray is bringing back its grower profile cards, which give consumers an up-close look at various growers in the cooperative.
“Consumers today want to know more about the food they eat, and our grower profile cards provide us an opportunity to connect our consumers with the growers who provide their cranberries,” he said.
Ocean Spray is continuing its “Fresh From” program as well, which features a seal on each cranberry bag showing that the fruit came from one of four sources in North America — Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Quebec and Washington/British Columbia.
That program is important because of the recent push toward locally grown food. While Ocean Spray realizes it is not local to a consumer in Florida, the “Fresh From” program can act as a way to introduce the growers that are part of the cooperative.
Simmons said that Ocean Spray is once again using Oppy as its North American sales agent.
“We have been working with Oppy for more than 10 years now, and they do an outstanding job for us,” he said. “I would encourage retailers who are interested in promoting cranberries to get in touch with their Oppy representative or visit www.oceanspray.com for more information.”