This fall, Wisconsin’s cranberry industry projected to produce more cranberries than any other state, with an estimated crop of approximately 5.2 million barrels of fruit. That’s more than double the nation’s total, which USDA’S National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) estimates will be 8.6 million barrels of cranberries.
“We are also encouraged by signs that the oversupply issue we have faced during the past few years is beginning to turn around, thanks to the industry’s aggressive marketing efforts and support from USDA,” Tom Lochner, executive director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association (WSCGA) said.
Several factors in recent years resulted in the market imbalance, including good growing conditions; new U.S., Canadian, and Chilean cranberry acreage; and a flat demand for juice.
According to the U.S. Cranberry Marketing Committee’s (CMC) latest report, awareness and demand around the world is increasing. Overall 2015-16 exports of U.S. cranberries increased 7%, and exports to CMC’s target markets increased 16% over the previous marketing year. China represented the largest increase by percentage, with exports growing 55%. Other strong international markets that CMC targets include Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Mexico.
Thanks to these aggressive marketing efforts, trends show that the market is beginning to even out. CMC projects a 5% increase in processed fruit sales and a 1.5% increase in fresh fruit sales this year. Additionally, CMC reports that inventory as a percentage of sales is trending downward, at 81% this year compared to 82% in 2015, and import supply is growing at a much slower rate than in recent years. Domestic sales are also projected to be up 5% this year.
“All of these trends represent promising signs that the market is beginning to shift,” said Lochner. “There is still significant work to be done, and we are committed to continuing to do our part to stabilize the market and help the industry prosper.”
In addition to the industry’s marketing efforts, during the past two years USDA has purchased cranberries to incorporate into its food pantry and school lunch programs.
“The USDA support has been a win-win, because it allows students and those in need to receive all the health and nutrition benefits of cranberries while helping decrease existing inventory,” said Lochner.
The Wisconsin cranberry industry is a nearly $1 billion industry that provides more than 4,000 jobs in the state. In 2015, Wisconsin growers had a crop of approximately 4.8 million barrels. This year’s projections are dependent on good growing weather for the remainder of the season, including no damaging hail storms or major temperature drops leading up to the fall harvest.
NASS, which bases its crop estimates on grower surveys nationwide, also made crop projections for other top cranberry producing states. Those projections are: Massachusetts at approximately 2.07 million barrels, New Jersey at 588,000 barrels, Oregon at 530,000 barrels, and Washington at 194,000 barrels.