Fruit d’Or: From Bog to Table

(www.organicwellnessnews.com)

by Marni Andrews

Fruit d’Or, the world’s largest producer and processor of organic cranberries, has been successfully introducing their new retail dried fruit snack line called Patience Fruit & Co. since last Spring. The name, which was inspired by the extra time required to produce a quality product, has six SKU’s, three Whole & Soft (from 113 g to 142 g unit size, eight to a case) and three Classic (from 196 g to 283 g unit size, six to a case). Sweetened with either organic apple juice or a little sugar they contain no other ingredients aside from organic sunflower oil (less than 1%).

Patience is distributed through most major food retailers and natural food stores in Canada and is being introduced to the U.S. through nearly 600 supermarkets in the next two months. Shelf cases and display racks are available.

After being in the retail market for several years, Fruit d’Or decided to develop this side of the business as their client base expanded. The new business is completely different than their bulk business so needed separate expertise and a different business model, says Vicky Samson, Key Account Manager, Eastern Canada for Fruit d’Or.

Fruit d’Or is a leading supplier of cranberries and blueberries in bulk and has been a pioneer in organic cranberry farming since 2000. The company is located in Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, Quebec (pop. 700) which they call “a small corner of nowhere” where life is lived “at the rhythm of the cranberry.”

Without chemical fertilizer or pesticides, their berries grow more slowly and weeds are removed by hand. Their production process is unique to Fruit d’Or and they say only that it is both longer and slower than that used by conventional producers in order to end up with a bigger, juicier and tastier berry.

More than half of Fruit d’Or’s cranberry-producing areas, which are all local, are farms owned by shareholders of Fruit d’Or. The rest is from growers who are partners, confirmed Samson. The main growing challenges are insects and weed control but with all the growers concentrated in the same area they have developed strong expertise that enables them to produce higher yields than other organic fruits and without the problems of small fruits or rotting.

The better average yield we get from organic growers is at least 25% lower than conventional production, which is not bad, says Samson.  While yields vary greatly from one grower to another and one season to another, and depend also upon variety and the soil, typically Fruit d’Or’s yield is between 130 to 200 bbl/a compared to between 180 to 280 bbl/a in conventional. So their best organic growers are producing more than lower yielding conventional farms.

Another innovative Fruit d’Or product is their Whole Cranberry Powder, made 100% from their cranberries under the brand name Cran Naturelle for their Nutraceutical division. With high levels of proanthocyanidins (PACs) it is the purest, all natural, high quality, whole food cranberry powder on the market, according to Samson.

Since not all cranberry products on the market are crafted to Fruit d’Or’s standards, they recommend food & beverages or supplement buyers ask four questions before purchasing. Where are the cranberries from? Are they conventional or organic? What are the ingredient proportions? What food certifications does the producer have?

Even Fruit d’Or, with their constant emphasis on quality, continually works to improve their practices around sustainability. For example, they have broadened training for employees, ensure traceability of incoming produce and processed products, constantly improve recycling methods and are using a “closed circuit” culture whereby collected rainwater and melted snow are used to irrigate the fields.

The profile of the cranberry continues to rise in the natural foods world. Rich in flavonoids, phenolic compounds and antioxidants, its healing applications show no signs of slowing down. Research is even being done on the cranberry in relation to type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Canada is the second largest producer of cranberries in the world after the U.S. Other Fruit d’Or products are organic cranberry seed dry extract, organic cranberry seed oil and organic cranberry tea powder. They are sold in bulk only.

Fruit d’Or will be exhibiting next at BIOFACH 2016 from February 10 to 13 in Nuremberg, Germany followed by an active schedule including Natural Products Expo West in March and SIAL Canada in April.