Farmers Fear Cranberry Shortage

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Cranberry growers are predicting there won't be enough fresh cranberries for the holiday season. That's due to a dry summer and worldwide demand. There will be plenty of canned cranberries and juice — the majority of the business. But when it comes to fresh berries the growers are cautious.


Our business news starts with a cranberry crisis.

You might want to relish that cranberry sauce in today's Thanksgiving table. There are predictions that there won't be enough fresh cranberries to last the holiday season. In part, that's due to a dry summer, but it's also because people around the world are gobbling up more berries and drinking more of the tart, red juice.

NPR's Chris Arnold reports.

CHRIS ARNOLD: In this Ocean Spray commercial, a cranberry grower accidentally drops the Thanksgiving turkey into his cranberry bog.

(Soundbite of Ocean Spray commercial)

Unidentified Man #1: So from our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.

Unidentified Group: Happy Thanksgiving.

Unidentified Man #2: Okay, who likes yams?

ARNOLD: But it actually might be the cranberries that are missing from the table come Christmas. There will be a lot of canned cranberries and lots of juice, which is the vast majority of the business, but if you like the fresh berries...

Mr. RANDY PAPADELLIS (Interim CEO, Ocean Spray): We're cautious as to whether or not there'll be fruit or not through the Christmas holiday.

ARNOLD: Randy Papadellis is Ocean Spray's CEO. He actually downplays some of the worries; he says such cranberry crises has been forecast in years past.

Mr. PAPADELLIS: Mother Nature can be fickle, and we faced this type of situation before, and, inevitably, we always seem to find fruit for the holiday season.

ARNOLD: Papadellis says the tight supply is a reflection of the growth in sales. The company has been on a marketing mission - coming up with new juice concoctions and cranberry snacks.

Mr. PAPADELLIS: Our domestic cranberry beverage business is growing. We continue to grow well internationally.

ARNOLD: All that's been good for New England's cranberry growers; Ocean Spray is a farmer-owned cooperative. Papadellis says over the past year, net proceeds paid to the grower owners rose 44 percent to more than $260 million.

Chris Arnold, NPR News, Boston.

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