Canneberges Quebec, one of two Quebec cranberry growers for the fresh market, is on track to sell 40% more fresh berries this year.
“Last year we did a little over 1 million pounds of fresh berries and next year we may be looking at 1.2 (milion) to 1.4 million pounds,” said vice president Patrick Bedard.
Total production for the province’s nearly 80 cranberry growers was about 160 million pounds, Bedard said, while this year’s crop is projected to be closer to 140 million pounds.
Canneberges Quebec has increased its distribution at home, in Quebec chain stores and independents and in Europe.
This fall, the company is rolling out Cran Snack, a packet of fresh cranberries with a container of chocolate or caramel dip.
To date, customer feedback for the idea has been positive, he said.
Despite gains on the fresh side, Bedard said all Quebec growers are complying with a federal marketing order from the Wareham, Mass.-based Cranberry Marketing Committee to produce 15% less fruit this year in a bid to dampen overproduction and keep prices from falling further.
“Some farmers are getting paid as low as 8 cents a pound,” he said. “We’re not that low, but it’s not enough to cover expenses.”
While it’s his first marketing order, Bedard said his father has seen three orders since he began farming cranberries in 1995, though it usually only affects U.S. growers.
To reach his allotted target, Bedard plans to use less fertilizer and fewer bees for pollination.
“We think it’s a good thing,” he said, “because it will increase the price at which we’re selling our fruit, and it’s only for one year.”
He also plans to planta few new varieties this year, including scarlet knight, bred in New Jersey’s Rutgers University, which has been bred for fresh fruit.