(Feb. 29, 4:18 p.m.) Starting in late spring, consumers who purchase Cheerios, Total or Fiber One cereals could receive $1 off a 1-pound clamshell of Green Giant strawberries.

The cross-promotion between Green Giant Fresh berry marketer Colorful Harvest LLC, Salinas, Calif., and Minneapolis-based General Mills starts June 1 and is scheduled to last four months, said Doug Ranno, Colorful Harvest’s chief operating officer and managing partner. The promotion between the companies is valued at $6 million, he said, and includes purchases in the U.S. and Canada.

“This summer on a first-come, first-served basis we will offer strawberries that have a dollar-off coupon on the clamshell for consumers who buy any of those three cereals,” Ranno said. “So when you pick up strawberries when they’re 99 cents and you buy Cheerios, the strawberries are essentially free.”

Ranno returned Feb. 28 from a meeting with General Mills officials in Colorado, where the parties finalized the agreement. He would not disclose which retailers would participate.

“We’ve taken four major retailers and asked if we did this would they be interested,” he said. “Everyone we’ve talked to has said they’re on board.”

He said the goal is to make inroads into promoting strawberries, giving retailers advanced notice to develop productive cross-merchandising techniques.

“We just started talking about it two days ago,” he said on Feb. 28.

He said the official announcement of the promotion will be made March 5, during the Fresh Produce & Floral Council 2008 Northern California Expo in Pleasanton.

“Our plan is to help our growers by promoting strawberries this way at the peak of the harvest,” he said. “That’s a key communication point, when there is a lot of great-tasting berries to have this promotion available for retailers to capitalize on it. We’re hoping retailers will do a huge cross-promotion with a big display of strawberries with the cereals all around it.”

The clamshells with the promotion labels begin shipping in late May, he said.

“A lot of it will depend on when these new clamshells hit the ranches,” Ranno said. “We have more than 20 ranches that are going to do this.”