Cranberry Juice Makers Fight Back Against Sugary Drink Ban

The newly formed 'cranberry caucus' has some powerful Washington lawmakers, money behind it

With all the talk of what drinks would be banned under Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal — Frappuccinos come to mind — one particular industry is taking a stand for one drink to be excluded: cranberry juice. Now, the "cranberry caucus" is taking it all the way to Washington.

Led by Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown of Massachusetts, the caucus is aiming to protect the state’s largest agricultural product, and the livelihood of cranberry juice. Many in the industry are worried that the cranberry juice cocktail will be one of the many drinks banned under Bloomberg’s sugary drink ban.

The problem with cranberry juice, reports the Boston Globe, is that it takes a ton of sugar to sweeten the naturally tart fruit. Therefore, a cranberry juice drink contains more sugar in a 12-ounce drink — a whopping 12 grams — than a can of Coke. But those in the industry say not to panic about that high total: "We understand the rhetoric... that 100 percent juice is good for you, and that anything else is bad for you. We believe that the cranberry is an exception," said Randy Papadellis, chief executive of Ocean Spray Inc. to the Globe.

Laugh all you want, but many say the cranberry caucus is not to be trifled with: OceanSpray has spent nearly $5 million on lobbying expenses since 2008, reports the Globe. That’s some powerful money for a juice company. And the industry is boosting the health claims of the cranberry, like UTI prevention, to keep its reputation — and product — intact, reports Businessweek.