Juice-sippin' TikTok video could be a boon to Northwest cranberry and raspberry growers

Oct 13, 2020

Ardel McPhail says it’s foggy now most mornings on her family’s cranberry bogs just north of IIwaco, Washington, near the Pacific Coast. 

She and her husband own the largest bogs in Washington —  more than 100 acres. 

Washington grows about 148,000 100-pound barrels of cranberries and Oregon grows about 558,000 barrels each year. 

The berries have to be beaten off the plants and flooded with water overnight in preparation for harvest. Workers will slosh around in hip waders to round up the berries each day until mid-November.

“We’re only about 40% done,” McPahail says.  “We’re beating the berries as fast as we can and taking them off the bogs. This rain that we’re getting has been great. It’s filling up our ponds and soaked’em up good.”

But McPhail was surprised when Nathan Apodaca, the cran-raspberry juice-sippin’ Idaho longboarder singing along to Fleetwood Mac made essentially a viral unofficial ad on TikTok for their berry co-op, Ocean Spray. You might have seen it. After all, there have been tens of millions of views so far across multiple social media platforms. His video now has thousands of spinoffs, memes and even inspired Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon to do a juice-sippin’ video of his own. 

“We don’t get the TikTok, but our son does,” McPhail says. “And he called and said, ‘You got to see this!’”  

Juice boost 

Now, this fresh TikTok video may give a boost to Washington and Oregon raspberry and cranberry growers. 

Both sets of raspberry and cranberry growers say they have been dealing with depressed prices for their products.

McPhail says her family’s cranberry prices have dropped a third since the 1990s — from $60 per 100-pound barrel to $40. She’s hoping the popular video might boost consumption and berry prices.

McPhail says cranberry prices have been depressed because there’s an oversupply. 

“People have been aware of cranberry juice,” she says. But she says brands like Ocean Spray have been doing better than expected during the pandemic, because people are staying home more. Still, “Boy, something like this TikTok thing has really made a boost for everybody.”

Ardel McPhail stands in front of some of her family's cranberry bogs during a recent harvest near Ilwaco, Washington.
Credit Courtesy of Ardel McPhail

Red raspberries 

Northwest raspberry growers are also excited by the opportunity to become more popular among younger TikTok consumers. 

Farmers in the region produce 90% of the nation’s frozen red raspberry crop, largely in Washington’s Whatcom County.

Last year, farms produced about 82 million pounds of Washington raspberries. About 20% of the red raspberries are turned into juice each year. The USDA hasn’t counted red raspberries in Oregon since 2018. 

Raspberry grower Rolf Haugen of Lynden, Washington, says he and his fellow Northwest growers could use the boost from the TikTok video. 

“I’m just amazed that he would be able to ride his skateboard,” says Haugen, “have his phone out there, singing to the music and be listening to his music, and then just drinking the greatest cranberry juice that they make: the one with raspberries in it.”

Haugen was so taken with Apodaca’s video, he decided to reenact the scene in his raspberry field. He had plenty of juice at hand, but skipped the skateboard.

“I’m old enough to enjoy Fleetwood Mac, so it was fun to see,” Haugen says. 

Nathan Apodaca made the original video after his truck broke down and he had to skate to work at an Idaho potato warehouse. He now has a new cranberry-colored truck — a thank you gift from Ocean Spray.