The company announced plans to quadruple production capacity of sweetened dried cranberries with the construction of a $50mn plant in Wisconsin. Once completed, the extended production line will have the capacity to produce several hundred thousand kilos of sweetened dried cranberries annually.
Research indicating that dried cranberries could offer identical anti-bacterial properties to cranberry juice has made the functional ingredient even moreattractive to manufacturers - according to Ocean Spray - for use in bakery, cereal and trail mix applications.
This latest expansion follows on the heels of an April announcement that the company was doubling cranberry ingredient production capacity at its Middleboro Massachusetts plant.
An increasing number of studies point to the heart-healthy and antibacterial properties of cranberries.
Ocean Spray recently took heart from the findings of a small study, which confirmed the health properties of dried cranberries.
Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found that the company's Craisins sweetened dried cranberries had similar anti-bacterial effects as cranberry juice in the treatment of urinary tract infections.
The popularity of cranberries has been increasing in recent years as a combination of strong marketing campaigns and a body of scientific evidence revealing the fruit's health benefits have contributed to growing consumer awareness and interest in the product.
The fruit has long been considered an effective method of fighting urinary tract infections, something that has led to almost one third of parents in the US giving it to their children, according to a recent study.
And in 2004, evidence emerged to demonstrate the fruit's positive effect on heart health. The study, presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Society's Annual Congress in Calgary, showed that the cranberry improves circulation by increasing the level of HDL, or good cholesterol and acting as a powerful antioxidant.
The US and Canada currently produce about 7 to 7.6 million 100-pound barrels of cranberries every year, and the figure looks set to grow steadily.
Ocean Spray, which reported gross sales in the region of $1.4 billion in 2004, claims to produce around two thirds of the nation's cranberries.