Ocean Spray growers vote against sale
Tuesday to reject the possible sale of the organisation, Associated
The Ocean Spray cranberry co-operative owners and growers voted on Tuesday to reject the possible sale of the organisation, Associated Press reports. In November, three cranberry growers filed a lawsuit accusing the co-operative of trying to force poorer growers out of business for their own profit by rejecting advice to sell the company. The 2-to-1 vote at the company's 70th annual meeting in San Diego, US is seen as a victory for the management, which insists it is turning the company around after years of troubles caused by low prices. When the suit was filed in November, a glut in the market had dropped the price of cranberries to less than $11 per barrel, about a third of the $35 its coststo produce a barrel. In 1996, cranberry farmers were getting $60 a barrel. A company spokesman Chris Phillips said this week that prices have rebounded to the $20-$25 range and should increaseto over $40 per barrel by 2002, which would return the company to profitability. The company said it expects net earnings for grower-owners to rise $81 million to $140 million this fiscal year. Ocean Spray, which produces a variety of cranberry and grapefruit juice products, is owned by 804 cranberry growers in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, NewJersey, Oregon, Washington and Canada, as well as 126 Florida grapefruit growers.