(Feb. 21) Naturipe Farms LLC is responding to a record 2006 for its organic berry programs by working to double its overall organic berry volume in 2007.

The Naples, Fla.-based grower-owned berry marketer projects its organic strawberry volume to increase by 200% from last year to this year, and expects its blueberry volume to jump by 50%, the company said in a recent news release.

Naturipe said its raspberry volume should increase by 20%, while the blackberry volume should rise by more than 10%.

“Organic is the fastest growing retail category,” said Naturipe president John Shelford, in the release. “Year-over-year comparisons show 15% growth for each of the past five years, but less than 10% of organic produce flows through conventional supermarkets,” he added.

Shelford said the company is preparing to meet the demand that should come with the expected tremendous growth in organic produce over the next five years.

He cited research from the Organic Trade Association, Greenfield, Mass., that placed total organic food sales in 2006 at more than $25 billion — a figure that could grow to $40 billion by 2009.

“As organic becomes more mainstream many conventional markets are offering organic produce to their customers,” said Naturipe sales manager Jim Roberts, in a statement. “The real opportunity for us lies in getting those occasional users to realize that they can buy organic berries from their traditional supermarket.”

According to Shelford, Naturipe will market additional organic strawberries and blackberries from California, blueberries from Georgia and Washington, and raspberries from Chile.