(July 24) Naturipe Berry Growers, Watsonville, Calif., is now using a new strawberry cooling facility only minutes away from its Salinas field — a move Naturipe officials said should result in a fresher product.

The company previously cooled its strawberries at its more than 30-year-old facility in Watsonville. Now, Salinas Valley Cooling, which is located near Naturipe’s strawberry field in Salinas, will take on those operations.

Jeff Mink, chief financial officer of Naturipe, said transporting strawberries to the Watsonville facility took about an hour. This normally subjected the fruit to temperatures in the 60s or low 70s, he said.

The move, he said, would maximize fruit quality because the new cooling facility would place the strawberries in near freezing temperatures almost immediately after harvest.

Naturipe also ships raspberries and blackberries, which are cooled in Watsonville.

John Corrigan, director of marketing for Global Berry Farms LLC, Naples, Fla., said decreasing the turnover time between harvest and cooling would give the strawberries increased shelf life.

“Strawberries are one of the most perishable items in the fresh produce industry,” he said.

Naturipe is a partner with Global Berry, which coordinates sales and marketing.

The new cooling facility at Salinas Valley Cooling was built on to its existing cooling site, which is used for fresh vegetables. Mike Justice, plant manager, said the 28,000-square-foot addition was completed July 5.

Naturipe hauled in some strawberries July 7.