Ocean Spray: Building community through health, wellness and sustainability

By Bobby Chacko, Ocean Spray Chief Executive Officer & President /
Trustees One Waterfront Initiative CEO Roundtable member

In 1930 three independent cranberry growers joined forces so they could share their passion for a healthy and sustainable crop with the world. Today, nearly nine decades later, Ocean Spray is a vibrant agricultural cooperative of 700 family farms in the US, Canada, and Chile. Though we may all come from different communities and backgrounds, we all share a passion for what we do, and have a common commitment to a set of values and priorities that include innovation, sustainable practices, and health and wellness.

Personal wellness, for us, starts with our little red berry, one of only three fruits native to North America that are cultivated in the U.S. We’re currently in the middle of the North American cranberry harvest season, and our growers are hard at work harvesting millions of pounds of cranberries to be used in countless products from food to nutrition supplements. The beauty of the harvesting process never fails to amaze me, nor the remarkable health benefits of the cranberry, truly Mother Nature’s superfruit! Among their many health benefits, cranberries are naturally low in sugar and boast anti-bacterial properties that help prevent certain bacteria from staying within the body. The cranberry is also packed with antioxidant polyphenols and contains essential vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and more, and we’re able to use it for a variety of products, which continue to evolve.

IN THE COMMUNITY

Every day I feel privileged to work with our network of dedicated family farmers as we continue to grow our core businesses and expand into new, healthy living-focused initiatives and product lines that prioritize wellness for all. I’m proud to say that many of our employees and farmers are actively involved in local volunteer projects and outreach programs in their own neighborhoods. Additionally, our Community Impact Grant Program provides resources to organizations that improve the quality of life in the communities where they live and do business, with grants awarded last year to a variety of causes including sustainable agriculture, STEM education, and hunger relief. Our Employee Matching Gift Program and Employee Volunteer Days also help us to continually support the causes that are important to our staff. In January 2019 we joined a new community when we moved into a new corporate office in Boston—a city that shares our innovative spirit.

ONE WATERFRONT

When Ocean Spray became part of the Boston community last winter, it was important for us to exercise the same community spirit we do with our family farmers by getting involved locally in ways that are meaningful to the priorities of the residents, leaders, and other businesses who live and work in this beautiful waterfront city. As Christina Ferzli, our Head of Global Corporate Affairs likes to say, “We don’t believe that impact is a part of our business, we believe that impact is our business.”

I was therefore honored to join The Trustees of Reservations’ One Waterfront Initiative’s CEO Roundtable, a group of local business leaders working to support The Trustees’ vision to create a series of waterfront parks around Boston’s harbor. Designed to build community and equitable access to Boston’s vulnerable waterfront, these parks will align with the city’s goal to increase waterfront access and open space while better protecting the city during a major flooding event, and provide the many health benefits of green space that are so widely documented.

Just as Ocean Spray works to build and support community and prioritizes sustainable practices to support our cranberry farms and the surrounding wetlands and habitats across all regions in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, and Canada, One Waterfront is working to connect Boston residents, workers, and visitors to a healthier, more resilient waterfront, and preserve access for future generations. As Ocean Spray looks toward the future, we are excited to become a more active partner in building a stronger, healthier, and more resilient waterfront for all in our new home.

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To learn more about the One Waterfront Initiative, visit: https://onewaterfront.thetrustees.org/about


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Bobby Chacko

For more than 25 years, Bobby has been a global leader and entrepreneur in the food and beverage industry, working with iconic brands in category-leading companies like Mars Drinks, The Coca-Cola Company, AB Inbev, and GE Capital. As Ocean Spray’s CEO and President, Bobby leads a $2 billion cooperative, which is the world's leading producer of cranberry juices, juice drinks and dried cranberries. He oversees a global organization of 2,000 people, encompassing all aspects of innovation, marketing, sales, research and development, manufacturing, and administration.