UNDATED (WSAU) Many cranberry growers are worried about new federal guidelines for what can and can't be sold in school vending machines. Sweetened beverages might be banned under first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative. The Department of Agriculture is still finalizing the rules.
Cranberry juice cocktails have been offered as an alternative to soda and sugary fruit juices. But cranberry juice is artificially sweetened because of the naturally tart taste of the berries. The first draft of the guidelines say only 100-percent fruit juice would be allowed.
The United Cranberry Growers Cooperative held its first meeting in Washington earlier this month. They represent growers in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Canada. They've sent a letter to Ag Secretary tom Vilsack asking that cranberry juice be an approved food. Ocean Spray estimates that the school vending business is worth $2.3-billion to the beverage industry.
Guidelines are expected before the school year starts in the fall.