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Why Bay State Growers Of Cranberries Are Being Pushed To The Brink of Failure

Our newest Bostonomix reporter, Adrian Ma, worked on a series that will have you "seeing red." His reporting focuses on the unlikely rise — and unexpected fall — of the U.S. cranberry market in China.

Part I of the story looked at the trade war's impact on the growing Chinese market for U.S. cranberries. 

Here's an excerpt:


In 2008, a Massachusetts grower could expect to fetch around $58.60 per barrel of fruit, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). By 2018, the price fell to $22.30 — a 62% drop.
To make matters worse, the ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing has put a tight squeeze on international cranberry sales.
As the Trump administration prepares for a new round of trade talks, Chinese tariffs on American cranberries remain in place, adding to the economic pain growers are feeling.

The second part of the series goes back to the late 1950s when fear over a perceived cancer-causing chemical nearly ruined cranberry sales. 

Here's an excerpt:


Part of what made the Cranberry Scare of 1959 so hard on producers like Decas was timing. Back then, almost all cranberries were sold around Thanksgiving or Christmas. As a result, the Cranberry Scare was a wake up call for the industry: If it was going to survive another unexpected crisis, it needed to spread out the risk by getting consumers to buy cranberries year-round.

This reportage was made possible through the International Center for Journalists’ Bringing Home the World fellowship.

The series aired in four parts. Listen to all the parts here:

Seeing Red

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