Cranberry industry booming amid wild weather extremes
Cranberries are commonly found in the Northeast, Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest
What is usually a staple around the Thanksgiving Day table is increasing in popularity, and some market experts expect the cranberry industry to continue to soar thanks to some help from Mother Nature.
Market researchers at Technavio say the industry is on track to grow by more than $2 billion over the next several years and could reach a compounded annual growth rate of over three percent.
The growth means harvesters in the Northeast, Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest could be busy not only with the planting but also with the harvest season that kicks off in September and goes through the middle of November.
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Experts point to favorable weather conditions as helping the industry keep up with the growing demand for the fruit.
"The weather this season has been pretty good so far, some rain but not a lot. Other than a cold start to spring, temperatures have not been too cold. Pollination season is just starting and will go into the first week of July or so. During that period, warm sunny days are best for the bees to do their work. Throughout the summer, as the berries develop, warm temperatures, not super hot, are preferred, with occasional rain events," Brian Wick, executive director of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association, told FOX Weather.
Wick says typically, farmers attend to any planting during the spring through early summer and leave the harvesting for the fall.
As berries develop over the summer months, warm weather with the occasional rain event is preferred by farmers.
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The Agricultural Resource Center says Americans consume around 400 million pounds of cranberries each year, with around 20 percent of consumption happening during the Thanksgiving Day week.
The vast majority of the demand is for processed fruits that are used in juices and other blends.
Technavio’s report says consumers have gravitated away from preservatives and artificial flavors and more towards organic products, which use more cranberries.
Many consider cranberries to be a healthy food, and studies have shown they can improve cardiovascular health, prevent tooth decay and lead to all-round wellness.
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The increased popularity comes at a time in which companies have been hiking prices to combat inflationary pressures.
Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. CEO Tom Hayes told FOX Business that his company has had to pass costs off to consumers to offset supply chain and labor issues.
Danny Raulerson, executive director of the Cranberry Marketing Committee, says processing and shipping costs have resulted in an increase of prices to get products on grocery shelves.
Experts say it is too soon to tell if the price hikes will continue into the fall.
"We do not know at this point what the increase will be to the consumer as the industry is early in the production phase. Input costs are much higher this year compared to previous year," Raulerson said.
Each year Americans consume more than two pounds of the fruit, the majority of which is in the form of juice.