North American importer-supplier Oppy has announced that it, along with its its partner berry growers, is now shipping fresh strawberries and blueberries from California under athe Ocean Spray brand.
Oppy said it marked a "natural extension" of the relationship formed in 2003 to market Ocean Spray fresh cranberries.
A range of berries, including blackberries and raspberries, will join strawberries and blueberries as part of the Family Farmer Owned brand of fresh produce, establishing a year-round fresh berry presence for the Ocean Spray brand.
“Ocean Spray was founded by three cranberry growers looking to expand the market for their fruit,” said Clark Reinhard, vice-president of innovation for Ocean Spray. “The brand is well known across multiple grocery aisles but our presence in produce has 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.”
The Ocean Spray brand bolsters Oppy’s strategic push in the berry category, according to James Milne, vice-president of marketing.
“We conducted extensive research throughout North America over the past year and discovered a genuine enthusiasm for berries," he noted. "There is a clear opportunity for a strong brand like Ocean Spray 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.”
Following California strawberries and blueberries, the Ocean Spray Family Farmer Owned brand will feature fruit produced by Oppy domestic berry growers in the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and its international network of family farmers.
“Partnering with Ocean Spray enables us to simultaneously deliver new value to our grower partners and our retail customers,” said David Smith, Oppy president and chief marketing officer. “Berry growers everywhere understand the stature of the Ocean Spray brand and are engaging with the opportunity. 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.”
Smith added that the timing was advantageous for all, with berry category sales at retail elevating 15 per cent in the last two years, while also realising average-price-per-pound gains.
IRI data shows that berry sales volume has increased throughout the US, while branded produce is earning greater dollar share throughout the category.