Cranberry marketers try to shake holiday-only label

Cranberry marketers try to shake holiday-only label

Cranberry popularity rises with the holiday season but uses for the nutrient-dense fruit can extend year-round.

Cranberries’ peak availability is in October, and peak demand is in November and December, said Bob Wilson, managing member of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.-based Cranberry Network.

“It’s hard to attract consumers to cranberries too early because if it is warm, they are still thinking pineapple and mango,” he said.

During the holidays, displays and signage remind consumers cranberries are a part of the holiday season, said Karen Cahill, marketing director of Wareham, Mass.-based Cranberry Marketing Committee.

“They are a kitchen staple during the holiday season, and we see a variety of use emerge,” said Brian Bocok, vice president of produce management at Estero, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms.

However, only about 3% of cranberries are utilized in the produce section, Wilson said. Most other cranberries become processed.

“Encouraging shoppers to ‘buy two, freeze one’ is a great way to elevate sales and is often much appreciated by consumers, assuring they will have fresh cranberries in the house throughout autumn and the holidays,” said Tony Illiano, category manager for Oppy.

Wilson said cranberries should be looked at as more than grandma’s cranberry sauce, adding that sales have been flat in the past six years.

“A flat sales trend over time is, really, negative,” Wilson said. “The real challenge is getting the attention of younger consumers.”

Versatility is a marketing driver for cranberries, Cahill said.

“Beyond the holidays, recipes are an important tool for providing shoppers with new ideas for using cranberries,” she said. 

CMC offers a wide variety of foodservice recipes to help incorporate cranberries, Cahill said. They also have retail resources available to help drive in-store sales.

“Key messages and year-round usage ideas help keep cranberries at the forefront of shoppers’ minds,” she said.