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News from around the cranberry growing world.

11 Apr

All everyone can talk about is the weather here in Wisconsin.  Early, early spring, now really cold nights.  Many, if not most growers have the beds under water, changing water, talking about water, running sprinklers.  And it is April 11th! Yikes.  Big crop? small crop? Drowned crop?  Who knows. 

The other big topics of discussion are the Cott letter and the OS B pool.  I’ve got a couple of thoughts on both:

The Cott letter to its growers was mailed out on April 3 and amongst other things lists a floor price for the upcoming 2012 crop at $30/barrel.  Wow.  That is definitely up from 2011 from $25, but I thought it would be higher.  The letter also, reserves the right to lower the price if the US crop surpasses 8,000,000 barrels (last year it was about 7,500,000 barrels) and, on the other hand, Cott also claims that the price could go up if market conditions improve.  Over all the letter talks about wanting to support the grower and get them to profitability, and on that note, they are establishing a Pollination Support program where they will support 1 hive per acre.  (Details to follow, they said)   My take on the whole letter is, they say they want to pay us more, but gee whiz, if they can’t, they won’t. 

 

The whole Ocean Spray B pool letter is interesting too. OS established new rules for the B pool waiting list.  This is after moving 850 OS member acres off the waiting list and into the B pool for the 2012 crop and another 283 to be planted acres as well.  So, they moved their members first.  If I was an owner of the co-op (a member) I would certainly support that.  They can do what they want, it is their co-op!   I wonder if that means that (850 acres x 200 bbls acre) 170,000 barrels or so that just moved off the wait list came from the independent handlers?  I mean, was that fruit sold to independents last year?  Or maybe it is just coming online this year, but it is fruit that won’t be independently handled, even though it will find its way into the independent market, or ingredients market by way of OS’s auction and ingredients division.  So, these B pool growers are giving OS their fruit, which will be auctioned and keep the price down…but hey, they might get into the A pool some day.  The price you pay for getting into the A pool.  

As always, I wonder what all of this means for the independent grower.  Handlers are not going to pay us more than they have to.  Just like we growers don’t pay the fertilized guy more than WE have to.  If we can get the stuff cheaper, we will.  So, I can’t blame them.  As far as Ocean Spray?  They are doing what they have to do to get their owners the best return they can, can’t blame them for that. Not their job to take care of the rest of us.  Oh, but their auction is messing with our prices and we are going to have to figure something out there.  If they can always keep the B pool full with fruit to auction, then they will.  Simple as that.  I don’t see them auctioning their A pool fruit. 

The United cranberry board has been discussing all of this and more since our inception.  Our members have told us that they don’t feel they have options.  They don’t want to pay $350 an acre to wait on the B pool for Ocean Spray with the hopes of someday getting into the A pool, and they feel that the independent handlers don’t care if they even break even.  So, back in January 2012, we asked our members if they had un contracted fruit for sale with this 2012 crop.  The response was overwhelming!  Many growers  anticipate many barrels of fruit to be made available to United Cranberry.  So, there you have it!  United Cranberry is becoming a handler!  We’ve put in an order for bins, and are drawing up a marketing agreement.   There may still be room for more fruit this fall, so call if you are interested.  This first year will be crazy busy but we are committed to making it work and getting the highest return we can for our growers.  

 

 

 

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Cott’s earnings released and they had a VERY profitable year

17 Feb

http://www.sys-con.com/node/2171215

So, Cott made a bunch of money in 2011 and the Cliffstar purchase really seems to be working for them, as it is a huge part of their profits.  Any chance that they will pay more for their cranberries, just to keep their growers afloat?  Not a chance.  They won’t pay more than they have to.

Juice makers are put on notice, and we have to agree….

1 Feb

http://cspinet.org/new/201202011.html This is an article about juice makers and how they put tiny amounts of something in a bottle and make health claims.  As cranberry growers, I think we would agree that our favorite, healthy berry should be front and center in many, many drinks.  MOST people can’t eat/drink cranberries “straight up” so to speak and need a little sweetener.  I say, choose your sweetener.  We all know that the bottlers use every type of sweetener out there…cane sugar, beet sugar, agave, apple juice, pear juice, Splenda, Truvia….just read the labels, people.  It is mostly on the label.  The only thing missing is how much cranberry is in the bottle!

The juice company experts have told me that they make juices that people like (they test the heck out of them) AND are affordable.  They also tell me that people SAY they want one thing (more nutrition) but make their purchases according to taste and price.  I think they are missing a whole bunch of people that want the juice companies to tell them straight up, what is in the bottle, how much of it and spell it out.  How about reallygoodjuice  branded juice with all the particulars on the bottle?  What do you think?

 

Cranberry news and google alerts

26 Jan

So those of you that know me, know that I am new to this blogging thing.  A few weeks ago, I figured out that if you tag and categorize your posts, they get into the Google search engine.  In order to get news articles for the blog, I have a few google alerts set up, like Ocean Spray, Cott, Decas Cranberries, etc, etc.  So imagine my surprise this morning, when google sends me an alert on a news story…on my very own blog posts!  Yes, we have arrived!  Today I received an alert on my post on the Ocean Spray auction.  Will wonders never cease.

Wisconsin Winter Cranberry school

10 Jan

Today and tomorrow is the Wisconsin winter Cranberry School…a big trade show of equipment, pumps, banking, etc, etc for the cranberry industry and information on growing practices.  It draws tons of growers and handlers from around the state and even a grower or two from out of the area and at least one from Quebec.  Bonjour!

The interesting thing to me was the change in attitude from a year ago.  This time last year, we were expecting a base price of $10-$15 and we were awash with cranberries.  The oversupply looked never ending.  This year, we are expecting a base of about $25-$28 and handlers are looking for fruit.  The topic on everyone’s mind is if there is a shortage, why isn’t the price higher?  That will play out through the year, but if, indeed freezers are empty by late summer, things will get interesting.  The CMC numbers are not due until January 20th, so we won’t hear the official usage numbers until after that, but I heard that the usage numbers have increased 7% for one large handler.  If those numbers continue, the market is absorbing more of our wonderful, healthy fruit, and that is good.

All in all, it was a good meeting and will continue tomorrow.  Thanks to all the United Cranberry members that came to our meeting and brought good ideas.  We have things to work on and look forward to good things in 2012.

 

Is the “P” word just around the corner? Plant baby plant?

4 Jan

I just have to repost this post, because I am reminded that our WI freezers were virtually empty of fruit prior to harvest.  And everyone heard of offers for whole fruit in the $50-$55/barrel range, if there was any around, at harvest.  So it makes the whole question of planting even more interesting….so here is the old post:

In talking with various people, it occurs to me that in about 2-3 years the handlers are going to put out the “plant!” word.   If we as an industry grow about 10,000,000 barrels, and the industry usage grows at 3-4%, we will increase usage 300,000-400,000 barrels each of the next two years.  That 600-800,000 barrels will use up all that new acreage that is coming online and voila!  we are inbalance, or have a shortage.  The word will be put out to plant, and what are we as independents going to do about that?  We will be coming off some terrible years….and our cash reserves will be low.  OS growers on the other hand will have lots of cash.  Is OS going to let their A pool in first with new acreage?  Are they going to move B acres to A acres?  Are they going to move acres off the waiting list?  Seems to me, that the amount of independent fruit is going to go down.  Is OS going to supply the independent handlers or will we?

Things to think about!!

little blurb on Cott

1 Jan

http://seekingalpha.com/article/316856-2-best-soda-companies-to-buy-now-3-to-avoid

Let’s hope this analyst is wrong!