Cranberry production expected to dip in Wisconsin this fall

Growers struggling with oversupply

Commercial cranberries are harvested from bogs like this one.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:20 am

Wisconsin cranberry growers are expected to produce 5.6 million barrels of the fruit this fall, according to projections released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

That’s down about 7.1 percent from just over 6 million barrels harvested in the state in 2016.

But Wisconsin is expected to continue to lead the nation in cranberry production. Approximately 9 million barrels of cranberries are expected to be harvested nationwide this fall, so Wisconsin’s cranberry growers will account for more than half of the national total. Cranberry production projections for other states are: Massachusetts, 2.2 million barrels; New Jersey, 590,000 barrels; Oregon, 480,000 barrels and Washington, 180,000 barrels.

“Wisconsin is a leader in cranberry growing and we are proud of our hardworking growers and their many contributions. The Wisconsin cranberry industry is a major economic driver that supplies thousands of jobs and brings in a total value of nearly $1 billion each year,” said Tom Lochner, executive director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association (WSCGA).

However, the WSCGA says there is an oversupply of cranberry production that is hurting growers.

“The oversupply is a challenge for our growers,” Lochner said. “With the commodity price for cranberries well below the cost of production, many growers in Wisconsin and across the country are experiencing low returns and financial difficulties.”

Several factors have caused the market imbalance, according to the WSCGA, including strong growing conditions, new cranberry acreage, technological advances and a flat demand in certain products, like cranberry juice.

Last week at the U.S. Cranberry Marketing Committee’s annual meeting, the industry unanimously approved a motion to set volume regulations on the 2017 and 2018 crops, including a 15 percent handler withholding on the 2017 crop and a 75 percent producer allocation on the 2018 crop. The recommendation will next go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for consideration.

“This motion is intended to help stabilize marketing conditions and improve grower returns,” said Lochner. “This short-term solution will help slow the excess supply being built while the industry continues to focus its efforts on the long-term solution of increasing demand both domestically and in international markets.”

The U.S. Cranberry Marketing Committee (CMC) has worked to increase demand overseas.

“Growing demand internationally is a big opportunity, and the industry is working hard to market cranberries to new audiences,” said Lochner. “At the same time, domestic consumers are still the largest purchasers of cranberries. We hope that Wisconsinites will show their cranberry pride and help move the needle by finding more ways to incorporate cranberries into their meals year-round.”

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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