“We are investing $50M (£31.9M) in a next generation cranberry facility in Massachusetts in the US,” Kristen Girard, principal food scientist, Ocean Spray International Services, told FoodManufacture.co.uk at the Food Ingredients Europe trade show in Paris earlier this week. “It will provide 25M additional pounds [in weight] of sweetened dried cranberries for the industrial market in the US and Europe.”
However, even this investment would be dwarfed by plans for an additional $105M (£66.9M) investment within the next five years, which would enable Ocean Spray Cranberries to supply an additional 50M pounds [in weight] globally.
In addition, farmers in Canada were expanding the acreage they devoted to cultivating cranberries, said Girard. “The demand is there and growers are putting in additional acreage to meet that demand.” Most of the world’s cranberry harvests derive from Canada and the US.
Further growth in capacity in the Pacific Northwest would cover rising demand for cranberries in Asian markets, where Ocean Spray saw strong growth potential, said Girard.
The company is increasing its work with commercial customers on product development in regions such as Asia and Mexico. “We are looking to develop cranberry globally,” said a spokeswoman for the business. “Asia is a very active market, which we are looking to target in the coming years.”
Ocean Spray Ingredient Technology Group (ITG) claimed there were more than 1,700 new cranberry product launches last year, with bakery and beverage sectors being core areas of activity.
Health claims regulation
Ocean Spray is also pumping cash into a joint project with Complete Phytochemical Solutions to accurately measure the amount of proanthocyanidins (PACs) in cranberries. This will support its work to gain European Food Safety Authority approval under the Nutrition and Health Claims regulation for a claim that cranberries could help combat urinary tract infections.
The firm has established the health claim in France that cranberry PACs may “help reduce the adhesion of certain E.coli bacteria to the urinary tract walls”, with a minimum 36mg PAC dose. However, the firm currently has no way of accurately measuring the PAC quantities in cranberries, without which health claims on packs would not be approved within the EU.
“We are committed to supporting scientific research on the health and wellness benefits of cranberries and have made this investment to support the industry’s quest for a solution to the long standing debate on PAC measurement,” said Tom Jones, senior manager, business development, Ocean Spray ITG. “An improved standardised method will add further scientific validation to our high quality, innovative ingredient portfolio as well as establish an industry-wide, standardised testing methodology.”