Dec 12, 2011
Partnerships help Michigan cranberry farming grow

Take a handful of tenacious farmers, add some innovation and a smidge of cooperation, and you have the secret to Michigan’s small yet growing cranberry industry.

While the state remains a niche player, family farms are capitalizing on opportunities to boost business. Consumer interest in healthy foods as well as in buying from Michigan companies has spurred new sales avenues for the little bulbous berry.

One example is the partnership between the Michigan Cranberry Co. and supermarkets such as Hiller’s Market, Meijer Inc., Kroger Co. and Whole Foods Market Inc. This fall marked the first year Wally and Sharon Huggett sold fresh cranberries directly to a retailer, thanks in part to a request from Hiller’s to supply Michigan cranberries to its stores for the holiday season.

"It’s a win-win for everyone," said Wally Huggett, a semiretired sod farmer who has the largest cranberry operation in the state with about 220 acres producing 3 million pounds of cranberries annually in Cheboygan County.

"There is a real interest now from retailers in buying local," Huggett said. "It’s helped level the playing field (against larger cranberry companies). It’s given us an appetite to do more." The Detroit news

Read more of the story here.

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