Ocean Spray: The Innovative Cranberry Cooperative

Ocean Spray is a brand that thrives on innovation and pushing boundaries. With a rich history and a commitment to sustainability, this agricultural cooperative has established itself as a leader in the cranberry industry. From its humble beginnings to its modern-day initiatives, Ocean Spray continues to captivate consumers with its diverse range of cranberry-based products.

Diet Cranberry Juice Commercial With Clown
Diet Cranberry Juice Commercial With Clown

From Canned Sauce to Fresh Berries

It all started in the early 1930s when Marcus L. Urann, a cranberry grower, had an innovative idea to form a cooperative. He convinced fellow growers, John C. Makepeace and Elizabeth F. Lee, to join forces, and Ocean Spray was born. This cooperative, consisting of over 700 grower families across the United States, Canada, and Chile, remains owned and managed by its dedicated growers.

Contrary to expectations, Ocean Spray didn’t initially launch fresh cranberries as their main product. Instead, they introduced canned cranberry sauce, which quickly became a Thanksgiving staple. It took them 16 years to introduce fresh cranberries to their product lineup. The introduction of cranberry juice cocktail followed shortly after, marking Ocean Spray’s entry into the beverage market.

A Scare and a Rebound

Despite its success, Ocean Spray faced a significant challenge in 1959 when a scare threatened its existence. The U.S. Department of Health announced that a weed killer used by some cranberry growers, aminotriazole, was linked to cancer in lab animals. Though Ocean Spray swiftly banned the use of the herbicide, consumers grew wary of cranberries, causing sales to plummet.

However, the fear was unwarranted. The amount of cranberries one would need to consume to contract cancer was extremely high. The Delaney Clause, which banned artificial substances causing cancer in lab animals from food products, contributed to the confusion. It wasn’t until 1996 that herbicides and pesticides were removed from the Delaney Clause, allowing Ocean Spray to bounce back.

Championing Health and Sustainability

Ocean Spray has been committed to promoting health and sustainability for decades. In the 1980s, the company collaborated with the Women’s Sports Foundation to advocate for healthy lifestyles. Additionally, a Harvard Medical Research study in 1994 highlighted the potential benefits of cranberries in preventing Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). This led to the launch of Cran-Health, offering low-calorie juice drinks with sucralose as an alternative to sugar.

Recognized as a superfood, cranberries are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Ocean Spray capitalized on this by introducing a line of beverages focused on health. From the energizing Cran-Energy, which combines real fruit juices with green tea, to PACt Cranberry Extract water, designed to flush harmful bacteria from the body, Ocean Spray continues to innovate in the health market.

Sustainable Growing Practices

Ocean Spray’s dedication to sustainability extends beyond its products. Their cranberries are sustainably grown, with farmers using water in a way that protects the environment. Water is recycled and shared between farms, reducing the reliance on natural water systems. Soil moisture probes ensure that water usage is optimized, preventing waste. Moreover, the cooperative collaborates with National Geographic to promote regenerative farming practices, helping combat climate change and improve soil biodiversity.

Innovative Packaging and Initiatives

Ocean Spray constantly seeks out innovative ways to package and promote its products. For instance, in partnership with TerraCycle, they offer a recycling program for their Craisins bags. Customers can send their empty bags to TerraCycle and earn points that benefit non-profit organizations or schools. The plastic bags are recycled into new products like park benches and picnic tables.

Additionally, Ocean Spray is part of the Loop platform, which offers reusable packaging. Customers can purchase Ocean Spray products in reusable containers and return the empty packages for refilling. This initiative aims to reduce waste and promote environmentally friendly practices.

Supporting Culinary Innovation

Ocean Spray not only emphasizes healthy living but also encourages culinary innovation with cranberries. Through their Cranberry Chef Collective initiative, the cooperative connects chefs with their farmer families. This unique collaboration allows chefs to explore the versatility of cranberries and incorporate them into their menus. From cranberry-apple cobbler pie to cranberry-infused drinks, the possibilities are endless.

Going Viral and Embracing Social Media

Ocean Spray experienced a surge in popularity thanks to a viral video posted by Nathan Apodaca, a warehouse worker. His video, featuring him enjoying Ocean Spray juice while skateboarding to the tune of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” garnered millions of views on TikTok. This unexpected social media phenomenon led to increased brand recognition and a surge in searches for Ocean Spray products.

Ocean Spray: A Brand that Makes a Splash

Ocean Spray has come a long way since its humble beginnings. As an agricultural cooperative owned by dedicated growers, it has continuously pushed boundaries and remained committed to sustainability and innovation. From canned cranberry sauce to a diverse range of cranberry-based products, Ocean Spray has become synonymous with quality, health, and culinary creativity. So, grab a glass of Ocean Spray juice and enjoy the delicious taste of innovation!

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