Supplies of cranberries out of Wisconsin are down though demand has increased for the berry.
“Wisconsin is a big player and across the board, Wisconsin’s volume is down about 10 percent. However, as a company we are lucky to have a great group of growers who brought more fruit than ever into the cooler. But outside our walls, the numbers are down,” says Kevin Tritz of Twin Lake Cranberry in Vesper, WI. This despite solid weather during the growing season. “It wasn’t terribly wet or dry. It seemed every time we wanted to irrigate, a rain shower would do it for us,” he adds.
This good weather includes harvest. “To wrap things up we had a cold snap and fought through some ice but other than that the weather was great. We should finish up this week,” he says, noting that unlike last year when harvest started later, this year it began on time.
But demand is up
At the same time, there’s been a shift in demand for cranberries. “Demand is up significantly. I have to wonder if more people are at home baking and cooking,” he says. What may help meet that demand is the introduction of organic cranberries by Twin Lake Cranberry, who is offering the berries in an 8 oz. and 12 oz. standard mesh package.
As for pricing, Tritz says it’s holding. “Times are tough for everyone, from the grower to the consumer, and we have a great deal of loyalty to our customers. Our situation has allowed us to hold pricing while price increases continue around us,” he notes. That said, with a slight bump this year, the historic trajectory of cranberry pricing is the same. “Fresh cranberry pricing today continues to be lower than it was 15-20 years ago. We have held pricing for a number of years but it gets tougher each year,” says Tritz.
Along with pricing challenges, this year—like many growers have found across North America—the lack of migratory labor travelling for work has provided additional production hurdle. “Finding people to help with the harvest was one of the biggest hurdles this year,” he says. “This year our regular team wasn’t able to travel because of COVID-19. It was tough getting started but the crew that is wrapping up harvest is a fantastic group.”