Sales of fresh cranberries have been declining over the last couple of years, both domestically and offshore, according to the Wareham, Mass.-based Cranberry Marketing Committee.

The committee is working to change that, however, said Toby Stapleton, marketing director.

“In February, we approved some money to start spending money on the domestic market,” Stapleton said.

“Consumption in general has been down, so they approved some money for generic promotion.”

Fresh cranberry marketing efforts, of late, have been focused on offshore markets, Stapleton said.

“NK2 & Associates in Germany has done some things around the holidays that have placed media and trade emphasis on fresh berries,” he said.

“A couple of fresh companies are interested in pursuing the fresh markets on the international side. One company in Wisconsin has been working to get some penetration in the EU. The consumers are very interested, obviously, around the holidays in buying fresh, as opposed to the processed.”

Building on cranberry research

The committee is ramping up its marketing strategy to increase fresh consumption in the U.S. this year, Stapleton said.

“One thing we’ve focused on is crafting messages around all this research that’s been done on cranberries,” he said.

“We want to make it easier for media to follow up on this research. They can ask us for a copy of it or can easily access it online. We want to make sure we’re strategically using this research in a way that pushes berries.”

The research findings will be available on the Web sites of the committee ( and the Cranberry Institute (

“We have a contractor, a Web developer, that’s helping us to make it intuitively searchable,” Stapleton said.

“It’s going to be resonant on our server. We want all the grower organizations to link to it. We want to make sure the trade gets hold of it and industry can use it, as well.”

The Web site upgrades likely will be completed by June 1, Stapleton added.

“For us, it’s a good example of partnership but also using health messaging to push cranberry sales,” he said.

The Cranberry Institute is compiling the relevant information on nutritional findings, Stapleton said.

“We’re putting the abstracts together and putting that into the regular database.”

Spreading the word

A media campaign will spread the word that the Web sites are up and running with the new information, he added.

“We want more than the industry to know, so we’ll have a full-on media effort to get everybody to know,” he said.

The marketing committee also is launching a three-pronged marketing campaign this year that focuses on health, flavor characteristics and culinary applications, Stapleton said.

“We’ve targeted consumer-focused trade shows,” he said.

“They’re allowing us to partner with an entity that has a good reputation with the culinary attributes in general. We know other commodity groups are aggressively pursuing the culinary aspects. We know there’s some heat there, so we’re targeting Food Network type activities.”

The institute is participating in several programs this year, including the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, the SFChefs Food/Wine event and trade shows of the American College of Sports Medicine and American Urological Association.

“Because cranberries have high antioxidants, the ACSM had contacted us,” Stapleton said.

“They are doing a roundtable in December 2010. We talked to them about sponsoring it, specifically using fruit’s antioxidants for recovering from injuries. At the end of the conference, they’re going to be publishing an article in their journal about the results of the work that goes on at that conference.”

Cranberries likely will be featured prominently in that article, he said.

The marketing committee sponsored an exercise physiologists meeting in April, in which physicians discussed sports nutrition, Stapleton said.

“Cranberries still have the halo with the urinary tract benefit, but I think we have other benefits we need to start promoting, as well,” he said.

Cranberries’ antioxidant content is central to that strategy, he said.

“We to do these trade shows that get us out in front of a targeted office in a strategic way,” he said.