Cranberry market growing in Australia, albeit slowly

Ocean Spray was formed in 1930 and since then, the cranberry cooperative has grown to encompass more than 700 grower families all across North America.

While cranberries cannot be grown commercially in Australia, the US-sourced cranberries are still a ‘new’ product with the future for the little red fruits quite a bit brighter these days with their addition to a variety of snacking options.

According to Elissa Booth, General Manager of Ocean Spray Australia, Australia’s US-sourced cranberry stocks are used in a variety of Ocean Spray new products.

“Ocean Spray has been in Australia since 1995 and the variety of cranberry we use here is less sweet and more austere, which is why it goes well with fruit flavours.”

“The top-selling SKUs in the Ocean Spray portfolio are Cranberry Classic Juice Drink, Craisins Original Dried Cranberries, and Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce,” noted Ms. Booth.

“In 2015, Ocean Spray launched Craisins Reduced Sugar Dried Cranberries with 50 per cent less sugar than our Original Dried Cranberries, which is one of the leading new products in dried fruit.”

“We have also launched a new line of Ocean Spray Low Sugar Juice Drinks that are naturally sweetened primarily with stevia, and contain only 10 calories per serve.”

Craisin market growing down under

Australians’ appreciation for this iconic North American fruit is expanding, if the latest figures are to be believed.

“We have a growing market here in Australia, with a growth rate of about 5-10 per cent per annum,” said Ms. Booth.

“At the moment, the main area where cranberries are used is in baked goods, juices, yoghurts and in cereals.”

As for Ocean Spray, their recent release of a number of dried cranberry combinations has been used in snacking options like Greek Yoghurt, Milk Chocolate and Trail Mix ready-to-eat packets.

This is a sector where Ms. Booth sees the biggest growth potential.

“The snack pack size of Ocean Spray Craisins Dried Cranberries is available in Coles stores nationally.  We are exploring other opportunities for distribution.”

Over the past 12 months, according to Ocean Spray figures, retail grocery dried cranberry segment sales are growing at +5.2 per cent for the latest 52-weeks ending 29.11.15 (Value Sales, Coles & Woolworths Grocery Sales). 

“Ocean Spray Craisins Dried Cranberries are the dried cranberry brand leader with 72 per cent value share and are driving the majority of the Dried Cranberry Segment growth.”

While Craisins used are often enjoyed on their own as a delicious snack right out of the bag, their versatility, vibrant taste and colour makes them suitable as a topping or ingredient in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes. 

“Craisins are often used as a topping on yoghurt, muesli, and fruit salads, blended into smoothie, and green or grain salads, or used in baked goods such as muffins, breads and biscuits for a little extra burst of colour and flavour.  Craisins dried cranberries are a good source of fibre and a convenient serving of fruit,” noted Ms. Booth.

Craisin health benefits coming to the fore

“Not only are cranberry products great for the taste buds, but they can also be part of a healthy balanced lifestyle to help promote good health,” said Ms. Booth.

“There is more than 50 years of evidence supporting the role of cranberries in helping to fight reduce the risk of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs).”

“Research suggests that reducing the risk of recurrent UTIs with cranberry juice can be a nutritional approach to reduce the use of antibiotics and prevent increased resistance – a phenomenon whereby viruses and bacteria are able to resist the effects of antibiotics.”

“Additionally, studies reveal that drinking low–calorie cranberry juice twice a day can assist in lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke when consumed as part of a healthy balanced diet, while there is also new evidence that reduced sugar dried cranberries could improve sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes compared to other commonly consumed fruits like bananas.”