Wis. State Cranberry Growers Association: Harvest underway as Wisconsin hosts international business mission on cranberry exports


Tom Lochner

(715) 423-2070/(715) 459-2343

Kris Naidl or Lauren Olstad

(414) 335-3167

Trade representatives from 12 countries meet with WI Secretaries Leinenkugel and Nilsestuen, tour marsh, learn about cranberries


Cranberry exports increase by nearly 18 percent over last year

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, WIS. – The Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association (WSCGA), along with Wisconsin Commerce Secretary Richard Leinenkugel, Wisconsin Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen and members of the U.S. Cranberry Marketing Committee (CMC), tomorrow will host 18 trade representatives from 12 countries at the Gottschalk family cranberry marsh in Wisconsin Rapids. The international guests – from Australia, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Poland, Mexico, Japan and South Korea – will arrive tomorrow in Wisconsin cranberry country to learn about the fall cranberry harvest and different ways to promote cranberries in their individual countries, thus helping increase international exports of the state’s largest fruit crop.

“This is a great way for Wisconsin to tell the story of the rich history of the cranberry industry, show our guests how the state fruit is harvested and allow them to take this knowledge back to their countries,” said Tom Lochner, executive director of WSCGA. “At the same time, we can learn so much from our international guests as far as how cranberries are used worldwide.”

This visit comes as CMC’s most recent figures show that cranberry exports have increased by nearly 18 percent over last year, and more growth is targeted. Right now, Wisconsin produces more than half of the world’s cranberry supply. This year’s Wisconsin crop is expected to yield 4.0 million barrels, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistical Services.

“Increasing exports is a winning strategy for dealing with the challenge of a tough domestic economy, and I salute the WSCGA for hosting trade representatives from around the world,” said Secretary Leinenkugel. “Wisconsin cranberry growers work hard every day to ensure the crop is something that we can be proud of here in Wisconsin and around the world.”

Wisconsin’s cranberry industry currently has an annual economic impact of $350 million and supports 7,200 jobs from its 18,000 acres of cranberries grown in 18 counties in central and northern Wisconsin.

“The cranberry industry – and all of agriculture – is vital to our economy here at home and can play a significant role overseas,” said Secretary Nilsestuen. “There is unlimited potential in the world cranberry market, and Wisconsin has the capacity and the desire to help grow the industry to meet that demand.”

During their Wisconsin tour, the 18 international representatives will hear from Wisconsin cranberry growers, workers and industry experts, as well as try harvesting and sample an array of domestic cranberry products. They also will educate Wisconsin growers on their countries’ consumer tastes and share popular cranberry products and promotions from their countries. For example, Kidney Health Australia hosted a “Wee Week” in July to promote how cranberries help maintain a healthy urinary tract.

Since 1999, the CMC has promoted the sale and use of cranberries and cranberry products in the United States and today focuses on 12 different export markets in addition to promotions in the United States. Over the last few years, approximately 25 percent of the national crop has been exported, and last year, nearly 45 million pounds of cranberries were exported. Other factors contributing to the increased demand include research that demonstrates the cranberry’s health benefits and disease-fighting and prevention abilities, and creativity by manufacturers to introduce cranberries and sweetened dried cranberries into a variety of products.

“We’re seeing tremendous growth in all 12 countries, especially those in Europe. In fact, Germany is the central distribution point for all of the European countries, especially for sweetened dried cranberries,” said David Farrimond, executive director of the CMC. “We’re also seeing trends that suggest people in other countries, not just the U.S., want more healthy food options, and cranberries are part of a healthy diet.”

The visit to Gottschalk Cranberry will include marsh tours and harvest activities, with guests having the chance to bring in this year’s harvest. There will also be helicopter aerial tours of harvest for the international guests. Following the Sept. 24 visit, they will visit Cranberry Fest and tour the CranberryDiscoveryCenter, both in Warrens, Wis. The central Wisconsin visit is part of a four-day visit to the United States for the representatives to share best practices for cranberries in a global marketplace.

The 2009 cranberry harvest will continue until late October on most Wisconsin marshes.

WSCGA was founded in 1887 and is committed to developing and implementing programs that will assist growers in doing a better job of growing cranberries and strengthen the public support of the industry in Wisconsin. For more information, visit http://www.wiscran.org. Also, for more information on the domestic and international marketing of cranberries visit, http://www.uscranberries.com and health and research information on cranberries is available at http://www.cranberryinstitute.org.