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Originally published November 2, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 2, 2007 at 2:02 AM

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Retail Report

Buoyed by demand, good state harvest, cranberry farmers bogged down no more

With candy-corn season past, the holiday feast season has begun, and that calls for lots of cranberries. Washington produces many of its...

Seattle Times business reporters

Fruitful growers

Washington is the country's fifth-largest producer of cranberries, a crop that rebounded this year after a difficult 2006 harvest. Here are crop estimates for 2007:

Wisconsin: 3.9 million barrels

Massachusetts: 1.8 million barrels

New Jersey: 520,000 barrels

Oregon: 500,000 barrels

Washington: 180,000 barrels

Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

With candy-corn season past, the holiday feast season has begun, and that calls for lots of cranberries.

Washington produces many of its own cranberries in the state's southwest corner, where farmers expect this year's harvest to yield 180,000 barrels, or about 18 million pounds. It is the country's fifth-largest cranberry producer.

Some will be sold fresh and used in cranberry sauce, but most become cranberry juice or dried, sweetened cranberries.

This year, dried cranberries surpassed dried apricots as the country's second-most-popular dried fruit. They still trail raisins, which have more than 40 percent of the market, according to Grocery Headquarters Magazine.

Part of cranberries' popularity comes from their recently discovered antioxidant value. By some measures, cranberries have more antioxidants than blueberries, a claim that ticks off some blueberry producers.

"Cranberries are upsetting some other berries, that's for sure," said Peter Guyer, president of Athena Marketing International in Seattle, a consulting firm for the food and beverage industry. Some players, even in the cranberry industry, want a standard measure for antioxidants so that consumers will know which claims to trust, Guyer said.

Ocean Spray recently spent almost $18 million boosting production of its "Craisins" at a factory in Markham, near Aberdeen.

More than half of Washington's cranberries become Craisins, estimated Kim Patten, a horticulture professor at Washington State University's extension unit on the Long Beach Peninsula.

Still, during last week's sunny weather, Washington cranberry farmers harvested as many fresh cranberries as they could. Fresh cranberries bring prices 20 to 40 percent higher than those sold for processing, said Carl Waara, a fourth-generation cranberry farmer in Grayland.

With vines dating back to 1925, Waara remains one of the state's few full-time cranberry farmers.

Many were wiped out in a market crash about a decade ago. Others suffered from last year's anemic harvest, which came in about 39 percent below the prior year.

"Last year was the worst in history, for me personally and for most of the area," Waara said. His cranberries rebounded along with most of the state's crop this year.

— Melissa Allison

Tidbits

Bartell Drugs opens a new Lake City store Monday at Northeast 125th Street and Lake City Way Northeast. The store replaces a smaller location a few blocks away and will include a larger pharmacy and wider selection of natural, organic and "made in the Northwest" products. Bartell owns and operates 55 stores in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. — AM

A full-size supermarket is slated to open in March in the heart of downtown Seattle. The 17,000-square-foot store will be in the basement of a building on Third Avenue, a space occupied by the department store S.H. Kress & Co. for 50 years until it closed in the 1970s.

The new grocery store, Kress IGA Supermarket, is owned by Myers Group on Whidbey Island. Myers opened its first grocery store in 1978; this is its third store affiliated with IGA, an independent alliance of grocers. — MA

CeFiore , a Los Angeles-based frozen-yogurt chain, opened its first Pacific Northwest location last month in Kirkland. The chain, which sells what it calls "Italian nonfat yogurt," has 17 stores from Hawaii to Louisville, Ky. — MA

Seattle has spawned another beverage concept — Zevia, a sugar-free diet soda in cola, orange and lemon-lime twist flavors. Founders Derek and Jessica Newman and Ian Eisenberg market the drink as a "carbonated stevia supplement." Stevia, an herb used as a sweetener in many products, is known for being sweeter than sugar with almost no calories.

The new diet soda retails for about $1.19 a can and $5.99 for a six-pack. It is available at PCC Natural Markets, Metropolitan Markets, Thriftway and Pasta & Co., and online at www.zevia.com. — MA

McEwen Ranch in Oregon has been certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, its managers said this week. The roughly 150,000-acre ranch is about 90 miles west of Boise. It has the capacity for up to 5,000 head of organic cattle and plans to expand.

McEwen will sell the cattle to Dakota Beef, whose president, Matt Grove, praised the ranch's organic certification. "It's time for the organic beef industry to shift the paradigm and start to focus on quality, rather than trying to get the green stamp on just any piece of beef," Grove said in a release. MA

Vulcan Real Estate is welcoming three new retailers at its South Lake Union developments over the next month. Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria opens its third Seattle-area restaurant Monday above Whole Foods at 2200 Westlake Ave. In early December, clothing boutique Opal will begin doing business at 2200, and GolfTEC will join Alley24 across from REI. — AM

PlayNetwork in Redmond has been chosen to provide custom music programming for Under Armour's first store opening this week in Annapolis, Md. PlayNetwork, which also installed the store's audio and video systems, said it will select songs with an "intense, high-energy club-DJ vibe" to help Under Armour sell athletic apparel. — AM

Four J.C. Penney stores in the state, including one at Bellevue Square, are among the first retail buildings in the nation to earn the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "Energy Star" rating for superior energy performance.

The Bellevue, Burlington, Puyallup and Vancouver stores use, on average, about 35 percent less energy than typical retail stores and produce about a third of the carbon-dioxide emissions of other area retailers, according to the EPA. The agency implemented the Energy Star rating for retail buildings last month. — AM

Starbucks' headquarters building has been certified LEED-EB Gold, making it the country's oldest existing building to earn certification for Leadership in Energy and Environment Design.

The U.S. Green Building Council administers the benchmark designation for high-performance, environmentally sustainable buildings. Starbucks and the building's owner, Nitze-Stagen, worked together to gain certification. — MA

Retail Report appears Fridays. Melissa Allison covers the food and beverage industry. She can be reached at 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com. Amy Martinez covers goods, services and online retail. She can be reached at 206-464-2923 or amartinez@seattletimes.com.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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About Retail Report
Retail Report is a look at the trends, issues and people who makeup the dynamic and versatile retail sector throughout the Puget Sound region. Every Friday with Melissa Allison and Amy Martinez. Send tips or comments to mallison@seattletimes.com or amartinez@seattletimes.com.

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