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Raw Water and Dry Cranberries

Raw Water and Dry Cranberries

Say what you will about the economy, employment and consumer spending, but I remain impressed with the way the health and wellness market continues to adapt. Last week we wrote about aspirin pods shaped liked hearts and mellow ceiling lights that induce drowsiness.

raw_water.jpgThis week, we have raw water from Maine and dry cranberries harvested by an Indian tribe in Oregon. What qualifies these products as interesting are their niche-iness. No one is going to make a billion dollars out of these endeavours, but they are differentiated enough and fill a growing demand for raw foods, a topic we’ve written about before, both on this blog and in the print issue of SN Whole Health.

Raw Water is the result of a waiver granted by Maine authorities for the Summit Spring bottled water company, based in Harrison, Maine, to sell spring water that has not undergone any filtration or treatment, and has not traveled through any pumps or boreholes. It’s raw, with microscopic algae, potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium all going into the bottle.

The idea — much like the one that propelled the artisan salt category — is that Raw Water is a “nutrient rich; ‘living’ spring water” that has not been stripped of naturally occurring elements. Each one-liter bottle is wrapped in a recycled-content brown paper bag lined with wax, to protect it from decomposition and to protect the taste.

OK, the cranberries. From The Oregonian, we read that the Coquille Tribe of Charleston, Ore. is planning to increase production of organic cranberries using a rare “dry” harvesting method that is much more labor-intensive — the bogs are not flooded — but the effort produces more nutritious fruit. The organic dry berries are due to be packaged and sold in retailers like Fred Meyer, Whole Foods Market and Market of Choice, among others.

According to the report, Oregon has a bumper crop of cranberries on its hands this year. Combined with record harvests in other cranberry-producing regions last year, and the state of the economy, there’s a danger the market will be flooded (like a cranberry bog) with product.

That’s where the niche comes in. Using this dry harvesting method, these berries appeal to raw foodies, organic consumers and those looking for something with a little more (though still affordable) cache. These are the types of goods — limited in appeal as they might be — that will set whole health up for the next big growth phase, which will likely involve a new generation of small producers selling just this type of product. Remember, even organic itself was small once.