A new study has found that cranberries, Wisconsin's super fruit, play a bigger role in the economy than you may think.
The Fiscal and Economics Research Center (FERC) at UW-Whitewater found that the cranberry industry has an impact of $388,347,447 on the Wisconsin economy.
"Wisconsin produces many different products, but cranberries have one of the biggest impacts. With prices doubling over the last 10 years, we are finding that people will pay a premium for this fruit. That's something that wouldn't happen for a typical commodity," said Russ Kashian, director of FERC and professor of economics at UW-Whitewater.
According to the report, Wisconsin controls more than 46 percent of cranberry production in the U.S. and is the primary cranberry producer. Researchers found that the industry creates 3,839 annual full-time jobs in the state.
"This is really a double whammy for Wisconsin. We can grow this commodity here, and in the same county, we can process that product. It's an efficient system that works," said Kashian.
Wisconsin has major cranberry growing and processing operations in seven counties: Sawyer and Vilas counties, in northern Wisconsin, and Portage, Juneau, Jackson, Monroe and Wood counties in central Wisconsin.
Wood County is the biggest grower and processor of cranberries, with farms as large as 5,334 acres and three processing plants.
Researchers noted that Wisconsin has an ideal landscape and weather conditions for cranberry production.
"This is a recession-proof industry; people will always need food. We build our economy on special crops with value added, not commodities," said Kashian.
FERC conducts economic research and completes economic impact studies for businesses, non-profits and government organizations.
For the complete report, visit uww.edu/ferc/docs/CranberryFinal%5B1%5D.pdf