The firm has said it is investing $27m in a second phase expansion of its plant at Wisconsin, which will allow for the addition of a further 100,000 square feet to the plant. This follows a $50m first phase extension of 100,000 square feet, announced last year and completed in June. According to Ocean Spray, the second phase expansion is due to be completed in 2009, and will allow for an overall production capacity of over 30 million pounds of sweetened dry cranberries per year. "We continually review production capacity and, with sweetened dried cranberry sales soaring, this investment will ensure we continue to meet customer demand," said the firm's vice president Rob Beams. Demand for the berry for use in processed foods and beverages has been steadily increasing on the back of new research indicating that dried cranberries could offer identical anti-bacterial properties to cranberry juice, said Ocean Spray. The popularity of cranberries has been increasing in recent years as a combination of strong marketing campaigns and a body of scientific evidence revealing the fruit's health benefits have contributed to growing consumer awareness and interest in the product. The fruit has long been considered an effective method of fighting urinary tract infections, something that has led to almost one third of parents in the US giving it to their children, according to a recent study. And in 2004, evidence emerged to demonstrate the fruit's positive effect on heart health. The study, presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Society's Annual Congress in Calgary, showed that the cranberry improves circulation by increasing the level of HDL, or good cholesterol and acting as a powerful antioxidant. According to 2006 estimations, the US and Canada produce about 7 to 7.6 million 100-pound barrels of cranberries every year. Ocean Spray claims to produce around two thirds of the cranberries on the US market. The company also announced in April last year that it was doubling cranberry ingredient production capacity at its Middleboro Massachusetts plant. According to Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD), there were a total of 73 food and beverage products containing cranberries launched in the US in 2005. This number shot up to 237 in 2006. Just over 100 new products have been registered so far in GNPD for 2007.