Revised, January 2018
The cranberry is one of three fruits native to North America. It is a perennial crop grown commercially in man-made wetlands or bogs in primarily five states in the U.S. Americans consume nearly 400 million pounds of cranberries per year, 20 percent of them during Thanksgiving week. The U.S. per capita consumption of cranberries is 2.3 pounds, almost entirely in the form of juice or juice blends. Cranberries are at the top of the list of healthy foods. Besides being high in vitamin C, manganese and fiber, cranberries are rich in phyto-nutrients (naturally derived plant compounds), particularly proanthocyanidin antioxidants, which are essential for all-round wellness.
Cranberries, once traditionally consumed seasonally with holiday turkeys, are now consumed year round in processed forms. Fresh market cranberries are stored following harvest until it is time to package and ship berries out for the U.S. holiday market. Only about 5 percent of cranberries produced in the U.S. are sold fresh and the remaining 95 percent are processed, most commonly for juice and juice blends. Most cranberry growers sell their production on contract. A handful of companies purchase cranberries directly from growers. Massachusetts-based Ocean Spray accounts for about 80 percent of raw cranberry purchases. Other handlers include Northland Cranberries, Inc., Wisconsin; Decas Cranberry Products, Massachusetts; Clement Pappas & Company, Inc., New Jersey; and Cliffstar Corporation, New York.
According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Board, the forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2017 was forecast to be down 6 percent from 2016, with a total of 9.54 million barrels harvested or approximately 905 million pounds. Wisconsin is the leading producer of cranberries, producing 62 percent of the U.S crop in 2017. Other leading cranberry producing states include Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington. (USDA NASS 2017). The total acres of cranberries harvested in 2016 was 41,500, with average yield per acre of 11.5 tons, ranging from 5.45 to nearly 14.4 tons per acre. The total value of the utilized U.S. cranberry production was $292.29 million, 92 percent of the value coming from processed cranberries. Domestically, the cranberry industry is dominated by a handful of grower/processors. Ocean Spray, one of the oldest grower-owned cooperative in the United States, represents over 600 cranberry growers in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington as well as producers in British Columbia and Quebec, Canada, and Chili.
The price per 100-pound barrel in 2016 averaged $49.80 and $36.30 per 100-ound barrel for fresh and processed cranberries, respectively (USDA NASS 2017).
Cranberries. 2017. USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Cranberry Highlights. 2016. USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts 2016 Summary. 2017 USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.
National Retail Report – Specialty Crops. Issued weekly by the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service.