How Ocean Spray harvests 220 billion cranberries a year

  • Ocean Spraycranberry farms are a part of a large cooperative established in 1933 that includes the US, Canada, and Chile.
  • Many of the farms have been owned by families for four or more generations.
  • Each year, Ocean Spray facilities produce about 88 million cans of cranberry sauce and 223 million bottles of juice.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Come Thanksgiving, cranberries hit tables across the US. Usually in sauce form. But these pink super fruits have a long journey before they ever make it to your holiday plate. Odds are your cranberries started here in New England, on an Ocean Spray farm.

Allison Carr: Hi, I’m Alison Carr and I am a 6th generation cranberry farmer here in Massachusetts, and you are on my family farm.

Narrator: Headquartered in Lakeville, Massachusetts, Ocean Spray harvests 220 billion cranberries a year. Cranberries are primarily harvested in the water.

Kellyanne Dignan: Despite what people think, they don’t grow in water all year.

Narrator: Cranberries begin as vines in wetland fields called a bog. In June, small pink flowers bloom. It’s said the flowers look like a crane, giving the berry its name. Around late June the flowers fall off, and the actual cranberry starts to grow. Harvesting happens between September and October, when the bogs are filled with a couple inches of water. A berry-picking machine drives into the bog, and churns up the vines to knock the berries off. Because cranberries have four air pockets inside, they float to the surface of the water.

Allison Carr: We try to use Mother Nature as much as we can, and the wind. And in a lot of cases, the cranberries will be pushed to one area of the bog and that’s the area that we use to take the cranberries off.

Narrator: A couple more inches of water are added to the bog And this is where you’ve probably seen images of farmers thigh-deep in cranberry water. Dressed in waders, farmers manoeuvre what’s called a boom to corral the berries into one corner of the bog. They then rake all the berries into vacuums that suck them up into the backs of trucks. The trucks are sent off to the Ocean Spray processing plants where they’re unloaded. Those berries can become one of 1,000 different products. Ranging from juices, to dried cranberries, to of course, cranberry sauce. Each year, Ocean Spray facilities produce about 88 million cans of cranberry sauce, and 223 million bottles of juice! Their products are sold in stores across a hundred different countries. But how do small, family-owned farms in Massachusetts help produce almost 65% of all cranberries sold? That’s because they’re a part of the Ocean Spray agricultural cooperative. Started in 1933, today 700 family farms across the US, Canada and Chile, collectively own the Ocean Spray brand.

Dignan: The average farm in the cooperative, is just 18 acres. These are small family farms, typically multi-generations. In fact more than a quarter of our farms are in their fourth generation or greater.

Narrator: Under the cooperative, the family farms see 100% of the profits from Ocean Spray product sales. Dignan: Cooperatives support farmers because ultimately farmers are able to capture a lot more value for their crops. So the value we add through manufacturing and marketing and that blue Ocean Spray brand, all of that’s going back to the farm rather than going to a middle-man or a CPG company. Narrator: So you can go back to your cranberry-sauce-turkey-dunking, knowing you’ve supported a co-op six generations in the making.

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