- Massachusetts cranberry farmers are dealing with many big problems, including drought, rising production costs, fruit that is worth less, changing consumer values, and more competition, according to an Associated Press report.
- Cranberries are the top food crop in Massachusetts, which is home to Ocean Spray. According to the Massachusetts Cranberry Revitalization Task Force, the small red fruit creates thousands of job and generates $1.4 billion in economic activity. However, Wisconsin and Quebec produce more cranberries than Massachusetts.
- Sales of the fruit, which are used in juices, as dried snacks and in raw and cooked varieties, have remained strong, but supply has exceeded demand. A cranberry grower told the AP that there is usually demand for 8 or 9 million barrels of the fruit, but about 13 million barrels are likely to be produced this year.
As the calendar inches closer to Thanksgiving, it is good to know that there won't be a shortage of cranberries, which are traditionally used in different places in the traditional American feast.
However, the troubles that Massachusetts farmers are having are echoed throughout the nation. Commodity crops that form the basis of many food staples, like corn and soy, are seeing record yields—and falling prices and income for farmers. Wild blueberries are also having a banner year, but the federal government had to spend $13 million to buy up excess crops this spring. Tart cherries are also posting record surpluses, but low quotas are leading farmers to dump their crops.
And the pricing woes aren't limited to agricultural foods. According to an informal survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation, prices are down for eggs, whole milk, cheddar cheese, chicken breast, sirloin tip roast and ground beef.
This surplus comes at a time when much of the 2015 cranberry crop is still in storage, making this a good time for marketers to play up the importance of cranberries at the Thanksgiving table, manufacturers to experiment with putting the tart antioxidant-rich berry into juices, or working on innovations like dried cranberries, which prolonged the fruit's shelf life and made it an easier snack.