Big Picture: Red harvest

Ocean Spray outlook not rosy

 
(Matthew Healey/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
(Matthew Healey/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Ocean Spray, a co-operative of 600 cranberry growers, earned $1.6 billion in revenue last year, but the red fruit producer’s future isn’t entirely rosy. Moody’s recently downgraded Ocean Spray from “stable” to “negative,” citing the debt associated with a new juice bottling plant, along with pressure from competing brands and the concentration of cranberry production in a few geographic regions. About 20% of all cranberries are grown in British Columbia’s lower mainland, while Ontario, Quebec and the eastern United States are home to bogs as well. In total, North American growers will harvest as many as 11.5-million barrels of cranberries this year, according to Ocean Spray, with 80% staying on the continent and the rest shipping overseas. To promote the tart berries outside North America, the juice is mixed with familiar local flavours, like black currant in England or mango in Mexico. Despite these efforts, the market remains remarkably tied to turkey dinners. Of the 181-million kilograms of cranberries consumed in the United States each year, 20% of them are eaten over Thanksgiving.

 

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