Ocean Spray is a grower-owned cooperative that produces a diversity of cranberry products for American consumers, as well as consumers around the world.
Many of Ocean Spray’s grower-owners are family farmers who have been stewarding cranberry farms for more than four generations, starting with the cranberry vine and its nutrient-dense berries.
In the beginning
The Ocean Spray story starts in 1930, when three passionate, independent cranberry growers found the key to expanding the superfruit's success: creating a grower-owned cooperative. Together, Marcus Urann, John Makepeace and Elizabeth Lee joined their efforts to create innovative products with the fruit they loved.
Growers from Wisconsin, Washington and Oregon quickly joined the cooperative and, within its first decade, Ocean Spray became the first producer of cranberry juice drinks. Over the years, the Ocean Spray cooperative has grown to include more than 700 families across North and South America.
While they started with a single product, Jellied Cranberry Sauce, Ocean Spray now produces a variety of juices, dried fruit snacks, granola clusters, spritzers, energy drinks and more.
American cranberry growers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of export markets to their businesses. They are seeing how traditional markets are becoming saturated and the ability to open new markets and introduce the cranberry to new parts of the world is a big part of where they will be able to expand their businesses in the future. Ocean Spray does their part to help their farmer-owners grow and take advantage of such opportunities.
The farmer experience
Ben Gilmore, an Ocean Spray cranberry grower-owner, has seen these changes in the export market first hand. Based on his experiences and knowledge of the industry, Ben estimated that the export market for cranberries has grown from 50,000 barrels of cranberries per year to nearly 1.5 million barrels per year. “This has been a huge business for cranberry farmers, a huge growth in demand,” Ben said. “I would say that for grower-owners like myself, our future is tied directly to the export market.”
CoBank understands the value of the cooperative business model and their vital role in supporting farmers like Ben. CoBank has stood beside Ocean Spray, providing them the financing they need to succeed.