Ocean Spray has announced that it will purchase the cranberry processing assets and current inventory of unprocessed cranberries from Northland Cranberries Inc.

In a US$28m purchase-and-sale agreement signed by the two companies, Ocean Spray will buy Wisconsin-based Northland's 172,000-square-foot cranberry receiving and concentrate manufacturing plant here, as well as its adjacent office building. The purchase includes Northland's existing inventory of frozen, unprocessed cranberries.

In addition, Ocean Spray will pay Northland US$5m to secure first option on the purchase of 14 Northland-owned cranberry marshes in Wisconsin, excluding three cranberry properties that will continue to be owned and operated by Northland. Ocean Spray and its grower-owners will have 180 days to exercise the option of buying those acres at a set price.

The cooperative said, however, that it is not buying the Northland brand or its retail juice business.

The two companies have also signed a 10-year agreement through which Ocean Spray will receive and convert into concentrate all of the cranberries produced by Northland and its contracted growers. Using that concentrate, Northland will continue to bottle, market and sell its own juice brands.

Finally, Ocean Spray, Northland and Clermont, Inc. have agreed to settle unconditionally all claims in the anti-trust lawsuit that Northland and Clermont filed against Ocean Spray in 2002.

"Ocean Spray is growing, not only as a brand, but as a manufacturer of cranberry concentrate for the worldwide market," said Randy Papadellis, president and CEO of the Lakeville, Massachusetts-based grower cooperative. "We already have a strong presence in Wisconsin with our growers and our existing plant operations, and this agreement sends a clear signal that our presence - and the cranberry industry as a whole - is growing."