Northwoods cranberry producers and those across the rest of Wisconsin have helped make Wisconsin the nation's largest cranberry producer. But the large amount of production has industry experts hoping consumers buy more cranberries to keep the price up. The U-S-D-A has confirmed record yields for last year that averaged 288 bushels-an-acre, more than 50 barrels higher than the previous year.
Tom Lochner is Executive Director at Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association headquartered in Wisconsin Rapids.
He says with another growing season underway, producers have a lot of cranberries to sell....
"....w'eve been building inventories. The growth of production is faster than the growth in sales of products so we've been seeing depressed prices in return for growers and in many cases the commodity price is below the cost of production which is not sustainable economically in the long run. So there are some challenges there, so as we add more fruit to the inventory it can add some more pressure on those returns...."
Lochner says sales overseas increased by 7 percent last year, but domestic sales of juice and juice drinks is down, as is the most of the beverage industry. He says dried cranberries and cranberry products sales are up. Lochner says cranberry growers are like the rest of us....hoping for a stretch of warm, sunny weather so bees can fertilize this year' s cranberry crop.
He hopes the public finds cranberries for the upcoming holiday weekend....
"...obviously juice and juice drinks are high up there. If they look around there are a lot of specialty bar-b-que sauces and other opportunities to use cranberries. Cranberry cheeses out there and cheese spreads. As people are planning their 4th of July holiday, be sure to plan to use America's original super fruit, the cranberry..."
Wisconsin is far and away the national leader in cranberry production, making almost two thirds of the country's total product -- and that's almost twice as much as second place Massachusetts.