Leading North American fruit trader Oppy has entered a partnership to market berries under the Ocean Spray brand “Family Farmer Owned”, building on a relationship formed in 2003 to market the cooperative’s cranberries.
Sourcing from its partner growers, Oppy will start the deal in the U.S. and Canada with fresh Californian strawberries and blueberries, with plans to ultimately expand into raspberries and blackberries.
The brand will also feature fruit produced by Oppy berry growers in the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and its international network of family farmers.
“We conducted extensive research throughout North America over the past year and discovered a genuine enthusiasm for berries,” Oppy’s vice president of marketing vice president of marketing said in a release.
He added there was a strong opportunity for the brand to enter the market and “capture people’s imaginations”.
“This new innovation will disrupt an established category and offer a surprising new berry experience to the trade and consumers alike,” he said.
Ocean Spray vice president of innovation Clark Reinhard said the brand was well known across multiple grocery aisles, but the company’s presence in produce had previously been limited to just a few months of the year.
“The perimeter of the grocery store is growing fast and by collaborating with Oppy our brand will be on fresh, high quality produce from family farms year round,” Reinhard said.
“Consumers should ultimately understand that when they see the Ocean Spray logo anywhere in the world they are supporting family farms – the same way they do buying at their local farmer’s market.
“While cranberries remain at the heart of what we do, bringing other berries to market under the same brand will be a huge benefit to growers, retailers and ultimately the consumer.”
Oppy president David Smith said the timing was advantageous for all, with berry category sales at retail rising 15% in the last two years while also realizing higher average prices per pound.
“Partnering with Ocean Spray enables us to simultaneously deliver new value to our grower partners and our retail customers,” Smith said.
“Meanwhile we’re providing our retail partners the exciting option of high quality strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries packed in a label of high consumer awareness and appeal.”