I suffer from repeat kidney stones. It’s an awfully painful condition and seems to be genetic as my younger sister and older cousin have the same problem. This means I have to drink lots of fluids every day to keep my kidneys from developing new stones.

Natural cranberriesMy doctors have told me, “drink plenty of cranberry juice” and in point of fact, it does work well to keep the kidneys flushed of stones. However, typical red cranberry juice is often sold as ‘cranberry cocktail’ and it hasn’t quite been to my liking. ‘Makes a great mixer, but for me, it hasn’t been what I enjoy as a daily beverage. I found it too acidic.

Some years ago I purchased, on the suggestion of a nurse, Ocean-Spray’s White Cranberry Peach, which had a high percentage of fruit juice, low sugar content and a deliciously ‘adult’ flavor I could enjoy. It tasted crisp and clean. Even the National Kidney Foundation recommended the product. How could I go wrong, so I bought it every week and each time I would go to the supermarket to get it, they were nearly sold out. I had to fight to get a single container at times.

All of a sudden, about a year or so ago, Ocean-Spray decided to ‘upgrade’ this product by adding more white grape juice and high-fructose corn syrup, making the drink ‘newer, sweeter’ than before. What a rotten idea! They totally ruined a good product with a solid adult audience in favor of making it a family beverage. At $3.59 to $3.79 per 2 liter container, it’s not selling to families and the kids just don’t like it very much. Now the adults who used to buy it don’t like it either as its too darned sweet. Last night, before departing for a week-long trip, I stopped at the supermarket. There it was, unsold. The shelves had not been restocked, and this product was sitting there without a bottle out of place. Most other products had bottles missing from the shelves, especially their competitors, but not the white cranberry range. None of them (including plain white cranberry, peach and strawberry) had been sold.

I stopped the guy who stocks that aisle and asked him…”What’s with the Cranberry Peach (pointing to the Ocean-Spray brand)? He said “we used to sell a lot of that, but since they changed it, hardly any sales. It just doesn’t move anymore.” When asked, the same fellow said “they haven’t sold a single bottle all week of any of them!” This begs the question, “why hasn’t anyone at Ocean-Spray caught on to this?” You would think they’d see the numbers and simply change it back to the original formula. Heavens, NO!

It’s mid-Summer, in New Jersey, where we grow lots and lots of cranberries. People here love them, and we grow peaches too, so this would seem the perfect audience for this product, yet the folks here just don’t like this new formula. It would seem though, nobody at Ocean-Spray is listening to us.

The marketing gurus who completely ruined a perfectly fine and popular product from a respectable brand wouldn’t allow the product to be returned to the original. They think it just takes a bit more promotion, as marketing people usually do. Hey, Ocean-Spray, wake up and smell the cranberries rotting. Put those marketing gurus on a shelf to rot and get back to the basics. Let the consumers tell you with their purchases, this was a good product and we want it back.

Now, instead of an Ocean-Spray product, I’m buying cranberry juice from Tropicana in the refrigerated aisle. It has the clean, crisp taste I want and its less tart than the other cranberry juices I’ve tried. With less sugars, it’s much better for me too, even if it costs 40 cents more. Over ice with a spritz of seltzer and a squeeze of lime, it’s the perfect beverage to keep my kidneys in good shape.

When are food and beverage company executives going to realize that ‘new and improved’ is a marketing term the public understands as ‘I’m totally screwed up; don’t buy me anymore”. Didn’t these guys learn from “The New Coke” that new doesn’t mean better? The public gets it.

It’s funny because one of the founders of Coca-Cola was reputed to have said in his last days “tell them not to mess (actual phrase deleted) with the formula”. Someone did and now good old Coca-Cola is back as “Coke Classic” after “New Coke” bombed – big time. Those marketing guys will do anything to justify themselves, won’t they?

What’s really funny is that after the Tylenol problems years back, the pharmaceutical company that makes it did an outstanding job of bringing that product back into the public domain and today it still remains a benchmark medication. How come they could manage so big a catastrophe and a beverage company can’t get their act together with a juice product? You have to wonder!

By the way, please forgive any typos. I’m writing as we drive, and drinking Aquafina. (I’m not behind the wheel.)

Sorry Ocean-Spray, you’ve lost my business, confidence and faith. Let’s see what your marketing gurus make of that statement!


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