the independents get a higher price for their
berries, Don explains. But over time, belonging to the cooperative is a smart business
decision, he says.
“The co-op is really made for growers like
us, I believe,” Hatton tells The Connection. “If
we were forced to go to market on our own,
we would struggle. While they may not have
for us each year absolutely the best price, I
know each year I have a place that’s going to
take my fruit and that they will market it for
what they can get.”
Wendy adds that it’s a matter of pride.
The family has invested their lives in their
crops, and it’s important for them to know
that each year their berries will be processed
with the highest standards of quality, whether
it’s for juice, sauces or the fresh berry market.
“It’s the combination of getting a fair market price for their fruit, coupled with whatever dividend they get from the profitability
of the traditional branded company, that creates the value to membership in the cooperative for them,” says Randy Papadellis, Ocean
Spray president and CEO.
A history of innovation
Just a few years after Ocean Spray introduced its first canned product, cranberry
sauce, it came out with its next item: cranberry juice. Innovation has driven the company ever since, from blended juices such as
Cran-Apple, introduced in 1963, to the first
juice boxes. “Innovation has been our history
By Tim Talevich
IN 1930, THREE cranberry growers in
Massachusetts set out to solve a problem that
faced their industry. There was a good market for fresh cranberries, but what could be
done with the berries that didn’t quite meet
the standards to be sold as fresh?
The answer: cranberry sauce. And to
market this new product, the entrepreneurs
formed a cooperative called Ocean Spray. Still
based in Massachusetts, Ocean Spray today
has become a $2.2 billion company with more
than 700 cranberry and grapefruit growers in
the United States, Canada and Chile. The
company’s product line has expanded from
that first sauce to pure cranberry juice,
blended juices, energy drinks, Craisins dried
cranberries and a variety of other goods, all
tapping the cranberry’s unique taste and
The co-op business model
Ocean Spray’s growers, many of whom
have been part of the company for several
generations, are also the company’s shareholders. They agree to sell their crops at a set
price in exchange for support provided by
the corporation, such as marketing, information on best growing practices, strategic
industry updates and more.
For the Hatton family in Grayland,
Washington, being an Ocean Spray grower is
a matter of stability. Don and Wendy Hatton
have been growing cranberries on their
coastal farm since 1972. Their two grown
sons now own bogs on the same road.
Altogether, the Hattons have 47 acres under
Most of their neighbors are part of
Ocean Spray, but some instead have
remained independent, each year taking
their chances on the open market when it
comes to selling their crop. In some years,
Name: Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc.
Employees: 2,000 employees, 700-plus
Address: One Ocean Spray Drive,
Lakeville-Middleboro, MA 02349
Products at Costco: Ocean Spray
Craisins, Kirkland Signature™/Ocean
Spray 100% Cranberry Juice or Ocean
Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail (
depending on location)
Comments about Costco: “We
have worked very hard to partner with
Costco to create a symbiotic relationship between one of the world’s largest
retailers and the world’s largest cranberry company to bring innovation and
new products to its members.”
Ocean Spray president and CEO
Ocean Spray is a company of dedicated growers
Ocean Spray cranberries
are used in hundreds of
for the last 80-plus years,” says Papadellis.
Perhaps the best example is Ocean Spray’s
Craisins dried cranberries. During the process
of making cranberry juice, the leftover berry
hulls were worthless—in fact, the company
had to pay cattle farmers to haul them away to
be used as feed. But company researchers
found that reinfusing the hulls with juice, then
drying them, created a tasty snack.
“The business started as a small 15-mil-
lion-pound business in the early 1990s and is
now a 200-million-pound business sold globally both at retail under the Craisin brand as
well as to the industrial segment as a key
ingredient to about 800 other food items
around the world,” says Papadellis.
And next? Cranberries have been shown
to act as a natural antibiotic and have other
health benefits. Ocean Spray is researching
how to harness those benefits for use in other
innovative products. C
PHOTOS: COURTESY OCEAN SPRAY CRANBERRIES, INC.
The co-op is really
growers like us.