Huge amounts of cranberries could be dumped this season or diverted to other places such as a charity institutions as production has soared in recent years. Light loadings of fresh cranberries are underway.
At the same time cranberry growers are pushing the USDA to bail them by having the feds slash the amount of fruit that can be sold for the 2018-19 shipping season by about 25 percent.
The USDA published a proposed rule last Apple upon the recommendation of the Cranberry Marketing Committee, which would limit the quantity of cranberries from the 2018-19 crop a handler may purchase from growers. The bottom line is hope the recommendation will artificially prop up prices for growers.
Because of the USDA’s perceived inability to act upon the recommendation, frustration is running high in the cranberry trade. Most of issues actually involve cranberries destined for markets other than fresh. Fresh cranberry shipments, which represent only a small percentage of total production, should remain relatively stable this season.
The Cranberry Marketing Committee’s proposal divert fruit from the U.S. commercial market could be sold to foreign markets (except Canada), be given to charitable institutions, provide nonhuman food use or simply be used as compost in the field.
Soaring inventories of processed cranberries led to the recommendation.
In 2011, existing cranberry inventories were around 4.6 million barrels, but that increased to 9.9 million barrels at the end of the 2016-17 season.
By the end of the 2017-18 season, inventories are projected to be approximately 10.9 million barrels, the proposal said. Inventories as a percentage of total sales have also been increasing from approximately 50 percent in 2010 to approximately 103 percent in 2016, and could reach an anticipated 115 percent after the 2017-18 season. These inventories have had a depressing effect on grower prices, which for many growers have fallen below their cost of production.
Fresh cranberry shipments won’t be compromised.
The proposal, put forward by the Cranberry Marketing Committee in a February vote, would establish a marketable quantity of 7.275 million barrels and a grower allotment percentage of 75 percent based on their historical production. The proposal exempts organic cranberries.