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Cranberry production stays afloat with price increases, other Thanksgiving items with lower inventory

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(NEW YORK) — With supply chain issues hitting the fresh food industry, due to delays and struggles to get products from farms to store shelves, certain Thanksgiving staples like cranberries will have a steeper cost and potentially less stock.

Ocean Spray president and CEO Tom Hayes joined Good Morning America on Thursday to address the upcoming run on Thanksgiving items and how his company’s signature fruit has had to stay afloat amid supply chain woes.

“Ocean Spray has had supply chain challenges, the whole industry has. We will continue to do our best to keep supplies going and supplies on shelves, but we’ve had to be resilient this year,” Hayes said. “We’re owned by 700 family farms and they continue to do everything they have for 90 years to keep the supply flowing, but it has been a challenge. Whether it’s steel cans and making supply chain adjustments, we have had to do it, and this year has been difficult of course.”

When it comes to price forecasting, Hayes explained that his company “unfortunately” has to pass on the rising production costs to consumers.

“That’s just a reality. We have a lot of costs going up — all ingredients, transportation. It is something that is continuing to affect us as a company and we do have to pass those on,” he said. “Remember, they’re family farms, so we have to make sure they have a livelihood too and we’re balancing that. We haven’t taken pricing in 10 years at Ocean Spray. We’re doing our best to keep costs down, but we have taken pricing and are looking forward to still having a great season.”

By the end of October, there were already some shortages on other crucial Thanksgiving items.

Turkeys were 60% out of stock, which was a little more than half of stock compared to the same time last year. Yams and sweet potatoes were 25% out of stock, while stock on refrigerated pies were down 5% and cranberries were 20% out of stock.

If consumers shop early, those products should be available, but — with price increases at the highest in 30 years — they will cost more.

To save some money on the total bill, experts recommend shopping now for non-perishable items and considering a potluck style Thanksgiving to spread the cost around.

“This is our super bowl at Ocean Spray,” Hayes said. “We are working day in and day out, all night in a lot of cases, to deliver products to the market.”

“My advice is to be absolutely flexible. Whether it’s jellied, whole or fresh cranberries,” he added. “Plan early and make sure you get to the grocery store. It will be a happy Thanksgiving, but you have to demonstrate more flexibility than you have in the past.”

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