Canadian Cranberries

A Tart Treasure

Cranberries are native to Canada's Atlantic provinces, where they grow wild and are sometimes known as "marsh apples." They have become big business in several Canadian provinces—Canada, in fact, is the world's second-largest producer of this tart red fruit. Cranberries were a favourite food of Canadian Aboriginal bands living in the Atlantic region, since the berries could be eaten fresh, mixed with maple syrup to produce a sweet sauce or pounded with meat to prepare the dried staple called pemmican.

Cranberry plants are evergreen vines that prefer wet soil, preferably made up of sand and peat, which is why the fields are traditionally called "cranberry bogs." They need a carefully controlled water supply, both for irrigation and for the flooding technique used to harvest them, so Canada's growers use a combination of traditional and advanced techniques to manage their cranberry bogs and produce top-quality fruit.

Canadian cranberries are harvested in early to mid-autumn, when they have ripened to a glossy, deep red. Berries that are to be sold fresh are harvested dry, using a machine that combs the berries off the vines. To harvest cranberries for processing, however, the grower floods the bog to a depth of several inches and a mechanical beater knocks the berries into the water; as they float, they are pumped into trucks for transport to the processing plant.

A health-promoting delicacy

Canadian cranberries are sold fresh, frozen and dried, or are processed into juice or sauce. They can be refrigerated for several months without losing quality, and when frozen will retain their tart, clean taste for up to a year.

Cranberry juice makes a refreshing drink, and dried, sweetened cranberries are a delicious ingredient in baked goods, nutrition bars, trail mixes, snack mixes, cereals and muesli. In the kitchen, chefs use them in dishes such as cranberry-sweet potato soup, cranberry-glazed baked ham, pork tenderloin with cranberry-hazelnut stuffing, and cranberry-hazelnut coffee cake. They are the key ingredient in traditional cranberry sauce, whose distinctive savour is the perfect complement to the roast turkey served at Canadian Thanksgiving dinners.

But there is more to cranberries than taste and versatility. Aboriginal Canadians knew that they had medicinal properties, and recent research indicates that the powerful phytochemicals contained in these berries may provide a remarkable range of health benefits. Cranberries, for example, contain chemicals that prevent the adhesion of bacteria to cell walls, which may help defend against the organisms that cause stomach ulcers and gum disease; probably for this reason, cranberries have long been a recognized treatment for urinary tract infections. Cranberries may also improve cardiovascular health by reducing blood-cholesterol levels, and their anti-inflammatory properties may be a factor in promoting overall health.

Quality and care

Canada's abundant supply of pure water and fertile soil means that all our fruits and berries, including cranberries, grow in clean, healthy conditions. Because of our cool climate, our cranberry producers need only small amounts of pesticides to produce a bountiful crop, and they watch pest populations very carefully to ensure that they apply the minimum necessary quantities of pesticides. Canadian cranberries are also monitored by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which ensures that they comply with grading, packaging and labelling regulations.

Taste the Canadian difference

The tart savour of cranberries is a taste like no other, and Canadian cranberries can add distinction to many kinds of dishes. For further information about this remarkable fruit and Canada's cranberry industry, please visit:

Government websites

Industry websites

Trade Statistics

The following tables represent Canada's total trade in a given export commodity based on Statistics Canada data. The product categories represent HS code groupings and have not been modified. In most cases, statistics have been presented at the 6 or 8 digit level. Statistics are presented in Canadian dollars and are complete through year end 2010.

Canada's Exports to All Countries (HS Code 08104090) - ($CAD)
  2007 2008 2009 2010 Growth 2007-2010
Cranberries, bilberries and other fruits of the genus Vaccinium, fresh 44,309,328 63,790,896 66,947,756 48,011,039 8.4%

Canada's Exports to All Countries (HS Code 08104090) - (Quantity, KGM)
  2007 2008 2009 2010 Growth 2007-2010
Cranberries, bilberries and other fruits of the genus Vaccinium, fresh 45,316,234 40,401,701 41,485,355 34,487,287 -23.9%

Canada's Monthly Exports to All Countries
(HS Code 08104090, Value $CAD)
Month 2007 2008 2009 2010
Jan 1,133,616 34,200 81,649 72,292
Feb 1,213,946 804,177 81,702 51,950
Mar 290,690 432,987 338,333 647,125
Apr 0 847,985 38,780 423,376
May 127,103 154,450 260,763 634,601
Jun 90,280 88,947 180,993 906,777
Jul 71,395 157,841 26,718 698,589
Aug 82,658 90,569 85,796 233,342
Sep 13,617,502 5,309,921 6,428,449 4,528,544
Oct 22,104,724 46,039,498 44,391,715 33,305,382
Nov 5,263,144 9,371,686 14,906,447 6,271,679
Dec 314,270 458,635 126,411 237,382
TOTAL 44,309,328 63,790,896 66,947,756 48,011,039

Canada's Exports to All Countries by Province
(HS Code 08104090, Value $CAD)
Province 2007 2008 2009 2010
Alberta 565,010 0 0 0
British Columbia 31,000,497 34,890,344 42,702,235 28,338,930
New Brunswick 867,467 1,067,083 562,474 762,629
Nova Scotia 1,352,709 1,600,568 289,142 2,276,335
Ontario 2,815,284 1,267,430 587,690 639,074
Prince Edward Island 0 231,138 0 0
Québec 7,622,177 24,670,333 22,788,339 15,994,071
Saskatchewan 86,184 64,000 17,876 0

Canada's Key Cranberry Markets
(HS Code 08104090, Value $CAD)
Country 2007 2008 2009 2010 Growth 2007-2010
TOTAL: 44,309,328 63,790,896 66,947,756 48,011,039 8.4%
United States 41,975,849 60,051,417 65,319,318 45,873,866 9.3%
Germany 92,191 61,884 237,992 893,290 869.0%
France 0 197,013 690,981 353,962 -
Russia 0 88,947 0 351,793 -
Taiwan 7,974 141 110,272 149,392 1773.5%
Dominican Republic 118,956 0 0 139,380 17.2%
Netherlands 111,930 1,274,373 92,760 126,360 12.9%
United Kingdom 904,614 713,953 308,904 53,547 -94.1%
Vietnam 0 0 0 27,429 -
Japan 156,480 4,760 0 21,957 -86.0%