Ocean Spray is looking to further extend its reach beyond drinks and move into new areas, which could include vitamin supplements and oral care products, as part of a drive to exploit the health benefits of cranberries.

The co-operative recently began supplying a US pharmaceutical company with a super-concentrated cranberry powder for health supplements and said it was on the lookout for a partner to launch similar products in the EU.

Stu Gallagher, vice president of Ocean Spray, said that besides cranberry's proven effectiveness against urinary tract infections, such as cystitis, research had shown that the fruit also has antibacterial properties that could be used in a wide range of applications. "Cranberry fends off bacteria, and we are looking at possible applications for products for the stomach, ear, nose, throat and even for oral care," he said.

The US products are dual-branded with the Ocean Spray logo and Gallagher added that this tactic could be used in the UK.

The co-operative is also launching a major campaign in the new year to remind consumers that cranberries are as beneficial to health as the new fruit on the block - pomegranate.

It plans to splash out more than £5m in the UK alone on aggressive advertising and promotions from January to strengthen the brand's healthy image, although exact details of the campaign are being kept under wraps.

"The UK market is far too important for us not to have big growth here," he said. "One in six cranberries we harvest in the US and Canada are sold here, and the market accounts for half of our overseas business.

"There has been a lot of noise about new fruits, such as the pomegranate, so the cranberry is no longer top of consumers' minds. We want to get that back."