(June 13) WATSONVILLE, Calif. — Naturipe Berry Growers may be known for strawberries, but this summer it’s expanding its focus on raspberries. It’s also getting into organic raspberries.

Rich Amirsehhi, president of Naturipe, said the company had doubled its raspberry acreage for the 2003 season and added the organic raspberry production. He said the added sales and marketing capacity of Global Berry Farms, which Naturipe bought into nearly a year ago, is allowing Naturipe to increase its bushberry programs.

John Corrigan, director of marketing for Global Berry Farms, declined to quantify acreage or carton counts.

The increase in raspberry acreage for 2003 has come both through the expansion of current grower efforts as well as a grower recruitment program.

“As we set out to grow our bushberry programs, we wanted to develop a balanced supply during the season,” Amirsehhi said. “Our growers are using a mix of varieties and plantings to achieve a steady supply throughout the summer.”

Naturipe entered the organic raspberry business this year as some of its growers were able to plant on certified organic ground this year.

Both of Naturipe’s partners in Global Berry Farms, Grand Rapids, Mich.-based MBG Marketing and Santiago, Chile-based Hortifrut SA, already have strong organic programs with domestic and imported blueberries as well as imported raspberries and blackberries. Offering domestic organic raspberries was a natural extension to the overall program, Amirsehhi said.