Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., a grower-owned cooperative, today announced that the grapefruit harvest is underway in the Indian River region of Florida, where the grapefruit grower-owners have begun deliveries of this season’s red and white varieties. Harvesting began in early October and will run through April. Ocean Spray’s more than 35 grapefruit grower-owners report that although the season is off to a slow start, the quality is good and they are optimistic the citrus harvest will pick up in the coming weeks. Growers are currently spot picking to deliver the best fresh fruit to market. Over the next five months, Ocean Spray’s grower-owners will deliver just over 1.6 million boxes of grapefruit to the Cooperative.
“Although we’re known for our cranberries, Ocean Spray is proud to be a part of the Florida citrus harvest,” says Paul Stajduhar, Ocean Spray’s Vice President of Cooperative Development. “The cooperative expanded to include grapefruit growers over 30 years ago and we continue to drive industry product innovation and lead the grapefruit juice category today.”
“The Ocean Spray brand provides citrus growers with tremendous value,” says Cody Estes, [resident of Estes Citrus and Ocean Spray grower-owner. “When consumers see that logo, they know they are getting the highest quality citrus on the market.”
The grapefruit groves of Ocean Spray’s growers are located within a two hour drive of the cooperative’s receiving facilities in Vero Beach, Fla. to ensure the freshest possible fruit. The soft-squeezed grapefruits will primarily support both Ocean Spray’s Ruby Red and 100% Juice Line, including the new Citrus 100% Juice Blends, as well as 100% White Grapefruit Juice and 100% Ruby Red Grapefruit Blend, all of which provide a daily dose of vitamin C and two full servings of fruit which can help consumers meet their recommended daily fruit intake. The 100% juice line is part of Ocean Spray’s commitment to providing consumers with a wide variety of products and calorie options to suit every lifestyle and occasion.
Ocean Spray expanded beyond cranberries in 1976 when grapefruit growers from Florida’s Indian River region joined the cooperative. “Florida citrus growers deal with a lot of uncertainties,” says Estes. “With everything from weather to currency fluctuation potentially affecting our bottom line, being a part of the Cooperative provides a huge value in terms of planning and budgeting. It removes some of the uncertainties and allows us to focus on managing our groves and growing the best grapefruit in the world.”
Unlike cranberries, grapefruit aren’t native to North America. They were brought to Florida from the West Indies in the 1820s. Florida made its first shipment of grapefruits to the ports of New York and Philadelphia in 1885, launching the beginnings of the modern commercial grapefruit industry.