While domestic organic cranberry yields are expected to be lower than average, increased demand for organic cranberries and organic cranberry products are higher than ever for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.
Currently, the organic cranberry category makes up less than 1 percent of the total US cranberry production. Unlike conventional growers, organic growers lack resources like research, and assistance for maximizing their organic production.
Starvation Alley Farms, a Pacific Northwest cranberry grower is spearheading an innovative approach to supply issues. The organization advocates and encourages small-scale conventional farmers transitioning to organic farming operations, by providing helpful resources. Similar practices from growers are also spreading through cranberry regions in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.
“We want to help farmers transition into organics by creating more cooperation in information and resources. We want farmers to feel like there is less risk in being an independent, organic cranberry farmer,” said Alana Kamburry, Starvation Alley’s director of business development. She added cooperation and transparency is key to successful market growth to meet consumer demand for organic cranberries.
Starvation Alley marketers strategically crafted their outreach based off of their target audience – millennials. Through a strong educational and marketing push starting at a regional level, the grower started by providing cranberries throughout community food, drink and farmer related events. This initial exposure, coupled with the sharing of stories and the company message through social media, has sparked interest and growth in transitioning from conventional to organic cranberry farming.
Larger fresh cranberry brands like Patience Fruit & Co., distributed in the U.S. by Bridges Organic Produce, are also using similar marketing strategies. Patience Fruit Co., which has grown organic cranberries successfully for over 20 years in Quebec, offers a diverse range of farming education and recipes, as well as a blog with a focus on not just dried and fresh berries, but heath and well being.
Organic growers like Starvation Alley Farms, and organic cranberry brands like Patience Fruit & Co. are helping drive increased consumer attention and sales of organic cranberries. Through active grassroots and strategic marketing, companies have the power to transform the organic cranberry market.
And educating conventional cranberry farmers about the added-value of organic farming practices, along with providing proper resources to organic growers, together these forces can strengthen the organic cranberry industry to meet increased consumer demand.
"The organic cranberry crop is down about 30% or more this year due to poor yields caused by excessive heat during the growing season. We are anticipating supplies will be out by or before Thanksgiving this season."
- Robert Schueller, Melissas' Produce