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Ocean Spray Case Study Essay

OceanSpray Cranberries Inc is the world’s leading grower owned corporative that harvests and exports of cranberry and grape fruit along with its bye-products in the form of juice, sauce, etc throughout the globe. Founded in 1912, at South Hanson, Ocean Spray Cranberries has managed to keep its brand name as the world leader in food products till date. It is only because of the various strategies it has adopted at different periods when encountered with a difficulty. In Cranberry Industry as described by Jeff Kapell as “growing cranberries is not just a business, but a way of life –there was a sense of commitment to the land that went beyond making a profit.” OceanSpray had however succeeded in balancing supply and demand by expanding acreage each year. Ocean Spray’s marketing had let to an increase in the number of independent cranberry growers.

When OceanSpray was at its peak in business, the government started introducing several regulations and restrictions on using environmental elements such as air, water, and soil etc., which obviously affected the supply and demand cycles of OceanSpray.

The major regulations that affected OceanSpray’s economy were the one related to bog expansion. A bog is a type of wetland which is most suited for the growth of Cranberry fruits. However the government restricted the number of bogs to be used by growers for cultivation which in turn affected the production made by OceanSpray. The government also restricted the use of chemicals and fertilizers in bogs to grow the fruits in order to prevent soil contamination, land degradation and water pollution. OceanSpray being so committed to the society had to oblige to the regulations of the government.

Thus the concern for environment by both the government as well as OceanSpray affected OceanSpray’s business and economy to a great extent.


In order to resolve the issues related to the environment, the Board of Directors of OceanSpray established an Environmental Committee. To co-ordinate environmental programs and develop a broad strategy on the environment a six-member corporate environmental policy was created. It was necessary to develop a formal management structure to coordinate the widening range of environmental regulations affecting the cooperative, at that time. The Managers throughout the company developed parallel environmental programs coordinated through the Environmental Affairs Team. An employee of OceanSpray by name, Neil Bryson headed the Environmental, Health and Safety activities at a corporate level.


Ocean Spray Management felt that the new environmental policies would be more acceptable to growers if they were developed by other grower members. The grower shall follow the practices, rules and regulations that protected the environment. The growers had already started researching on finding out alternate pesticides for their bogs to protect the wetlands. However there was a need for educating them and guiding them since the management of bog had to be done in a more professional way using sophisticated agriculture management practices.

Hence it is mandatory for the managers to exercise control over the owners on practicing agriculture to grow cranberries.


The government as an initiative to protect wetland introduced new rules and regulations. As a result it restructured and strengthened the definition of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, an act which was related to preventing water pollution. This directly affected the bog maintenance and bog expansion activities of Cranberry growers of OceanSpray. The bog owners really started suffering because of this.\As a caretaker of the growers; it is the responsibility of the management of OceanSpray to help them get out of trouble. Hence the managers must obviously get involved directly in recommending the government to re-authorize the Clean Water Act.


Cranberry Bogs had been developed on natural wetland areas. The bogs were formed around the margin of streams and ponds. Cranberries were one component of ecosystem. The commercial cultivation of the cranberry altered to the ecological diversity of the bog. The functional value of wetlands were recognized by environmental activists including physical and hydrologic properties such as flood protection, ground water recharge and erosion control, biological and biochemical functions and nutrient provision. Cranberry cultivation posed for developing wetland regulations. The cranberry was a native wetland plant. The impacts of cranberry production on the aesthetic and the intrinsic value of the wetland functions related to water quality and biodiversity. The studies undertaken by the growers and the Ocean Spray suggested that the cranberry bog was low in diversity.

The cranberry growers protected large areas of land from urbanization. Cranberry Bog were the heart of a unique growing system that included wetlands, uplands, ditches, flumes, ponds and reservoirs. There were four acres of support land for every acre of cranberry bog. The entire Cranberry wetland system provided a diversity of habitat for many rare animal and plant species. Hence the government restricted the usage of bogs which were of high value to the environment. However, Cranberries had their best growth at their best only in bogs.

The regulations imposed by the federal governments minimized the opportunities of expanding the bogs by OceanSpray for the cultivation of Cranberries. The expansion of the bogs became an literally impossible owing to the acts like Clean Water Act and Wet Land Protection Act which insisted on ,”No Net Loss Of Wetland”. The individual growers had to get approval for each and every process by both the federal and state governments which made running the entire show much complicated than it was before. Hence the bog expansion became just a dream for the growers.

But by analyzing from the growers point of view, they have been into Cranberry business for generations and for them this meant something more than just making profit. So the sudden regulations should not have been imposed on them and they should definitely be given an opportunity to expand the blog.


“Competitive advantage is defined as the advantage that a firm has over its competitors, allowing it to generate greater sales and retain more customers. Competitive advantage gives a company an edge over its rivals and an ability to generate greater value for the firm and its shareholders. The more sustainable the competitive advantage, the more difficult it is for competitors to neutralize it” [Investopedia, Website]. OceanSpray as the world leader in Cranberry Industry had the farmers and land owners who did the job of cultivating and harvesting fruits with utmost dedication and care rather than just profit making. They by nature had much concern towards the environment and OceanSpray as an organization introduced and practiced several environmental programs.

Some of the most noteworthy programs were water management which researched on irrigation techniques for the efficient use of water resource, wildlife enhancement, a program to preserve and promote wildlife, pesticide screening, a program to analyze and identify the right combination of pesticides that would both promote the growth of the fruit as well as preserve the fertility of the soil, Pesticide use that formulated the risk criteria for the use of pesticides and advised the same to the farmers as well, and finally the Integrated Pest Management Program that insisted on aspects like manipulation of water resources, maintenance of irrigation systems and the proper application of sand.

This proves that the OceanSpray environment programs definitely stood as a competitive advantage to it increasing its reputation among customers and respect among government and other competitors.


Let us see how this case study can be considered as a tool to teach the concept of Air and Water pollution:

Strengths of this case that make it a teaching vehicle to air and water pollution:

The module 6 of this subject covers the concept of air, noise and water pollution. In water pollution, the importance of wetlands in treating waste water and preventing water pollution is discussed under the topic; “Public Policy and Preventive Action”. This case study of OceanSpray is about the practices adopted by the growers and management to preserve wetland as well as expand their bog and productions rate. Learning this case study gives us a clear idea about preventing and managing water pollution. Thus this case study could be considered as a teaching vehicle for water pollution.

Weaknesses of this case that make it a teaching vehicle to air and water pollution:

This case study is about the environment management practices adopted by OceanSpray in order to overcome the troubles caused by the introduction of new rules and regulations by the government to protect wetlands and prevent water pollution. However this does not provide any informative data about the source, cause, type and prevention of air pollution. Thus the OceanSpray case study could be very well considered as a training vehicle for water pollution but not air pollution.


Investopedia, Available at http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/competitive_advantage.asp Accessed on 12th August 2010.

Ecology, ECO8011 Module 6 Air, noise & water pollution.

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