Craisins are growing at a healthy pace

January 29, 2014

5 Min Read
Craisins are growing at a healthy pace


As the trend for tasty, wholesome and convenient foods continues, Ocean Spray® Craisins® sweetened, dried cranberries (SDCs) are rising in popularity as both a snack and an ingredient. To stay a step ahead of growing demand, Ocean Spray is installing new production lines at a healthy pace. In May 2006, it started up its fourth SDC line. With two lines in Tomah, WI, and now two lines in Middleboro, MA, Ocean Spray has parlayed a $15 million investment into each line for 10 to 12 million lb of Craisins per year.

Each of Ocean Spray's four SDC lines rely on SmartShaker® technology solutions from Key Technology ( to maximize product quality and optimize productivity while conveying the difficult-to-handle product along the processing and packaging lines. By minimizing product contact with moving parts, the Iso-Flo® shakers enable Ocean Spray to move its sticky Craisins efficiently.

“Key has the system down. A lot of engineering—a lot of science—went into each Iso-Flo shaker here,” says Bob Lowder, manager of Capital Engineering and MRO Programs. “Every system was customized for us. We've found the engineering and technical sales staff at Key to be willing and eager to accept any challenge. Design and development are their specialties. The success of the technology and the quality of our relationship contributed to Ocean Spray awarding Key the Supplier of the Year Award. That was a few years ago. Since then, the technology has continued to impress us, and the relationship has only gotten stronger.”


The inherently sticky, sweetened dried cranberries move more efficiently on shaker conveyor systems.

From the smooth, stainless-steel surface finish on the shaker bed to the pneumatic swing gates on the packaging distribution lines, Key custom-designed dozens of versatile Iso-Flo vibratory shakers to meet the unique needs of Ocean Spray.

Each Iso-Flo shaker uses proprietary, frame-mounted drives called Iso-Drive® and proprietary, spring-arm assemblies called StrongArm™, which distribute energy equally to all parts of the conveyor bed in a controlled, natural-frequency operation. This operating principle minimizes the vibration being transferred to the structural support, reducing the cost of installation and enabling the conveyor to be installed exactly where it is most beneficial—suspended from overhead, supported from the floor or mounted to other machinery. This design also reduces energy consumption and offers quiet operation.

“At our SDC plants, we operate twenty-four/seven,” says Lowder. “We're lightly crewed with highly automated systems. Our expectation for all of our suppliers is that the equipment run unattended. In terms of production efficiencies, we're spoiled—we don't have downtime associated with the Key equipment. The maintenance-free aspect of the Iso-Flo shakers is a huge improvement over other technologies we have had. We handle routine preventative maintenance: We monitor the shakers' stroke once a day, and we change the oil and spring arms once a year, and we're all set.”

With low-amplitude, high-frequency movement, the Iso-Flo shakers reduce maintenance and minimize product degradation. “The shakers are tuned to minimize product abrasion, which keeps product quality high and yield up,” Lowder adds.


Growth estimates indicate that Ocean Spray will need a sixth line up and running by 2009.

The stainless-steel shakers satisfy the most stringent sanitation demands in the industry, meeting requirements set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and exceeding NEMA 4X washdown specifications. The shakers also have rounded edges and sealed isolation springs. “We even have customized legs that are tapered to eliminate areas where product and liquids can get hung up,” Lowder says. “These shakers are super-hygienic and easy-to-clean.”

Ocean Spray produces SDCs for its retail Craisins line as well as for food processing and foodservice companies worldwide that feature the ingredient in hundreds of different grocery, bakery and dairy products.

Approximately 25 percent of Ocean Spray's SDCs are destined to become retail Craisins, which are available in three flavors—original, cherry and orange—as well as in two trail mixes. Retail Craisins are packed in 6-, 12- and 16-oz standup pouches for grocery stores and in 30-, 32- and 48-oz standup pouches for clubstores.

Ocean Spray delivers approximately 75 percent of its SDCs to industrial customers looking to use the product in cereals, snacks, yogurt, muffins, salads, cookies, pancakes, breads, desserts and other foods. To meet the diverse needs of customers such as General Mills, Post, Kellogg's and others, Ocean Spray produces nearly 100 different SDCs, each offering a unique combination of size, shape, color, water activity and flavor. The product is packed for industrial customers in 10- and 25-lb boxes as well as in 300- and 500-lb totes.

“Demand for Craisins has grown more than twenty percent per year over the past few years,” says Lowder. “Our long-range projections show that we need another thirty-million-pound production capacity relatively quickly.” A fifth line, now being designed, will go into Markham, WA. “Growth estimates show that we will need a sixth line up and running in 2009,” Lowder continues. “We project that Craisins will be a 100-million-pound-per-year business by 2010.”

Ocean Spray has been producing Craisins for 12 years now. “We've learned a lot,” Lowder adds. “At each phase, we take what we've learned and then apply those lessons in designing the next line. We look to increase throughput and improve product quality at every turn. Our goal is to produce the thickest, juiciest, plumpest SDC we can, and Key helps us achieve that goal.”

One of the lessons learned along the way involves elevating product. With sticky, SDCs, conveying the fruit could be a problem. Since eliminating product contact and moving parts, Ocean Spray relies on the Iso-Flo shakers to elevate the product.

The shakers move the SDCs at an incline of up to almost 10 deg, which maintains the highest product quality and simplifies sanitation, Lowder says.

“Ocean Spray uses state-of-the-art equipment to ensure the highest product quality and integrity,” he concludes. “A lot of food and beverage companies talk about quality and integrity. But at Ocean Spray, it's much more than a message or a tagline. It's a way of life.”

More information is available:

Key Technology, 509/529-2161.

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