ORANGE, Calif. — Interfresh Inc. has been in the berry trade for some years but has only recently ventured into the world of branded strawberries with the rollout of its i heart berries! label.

“We’ve been doing it slowly and steadily since the end of December,” David Akahoshi, salesman, said in late February.

“It was mainly conceived for retail, but we’ve worked with US Foods in Northern California and FreshPoint in Los Angeles on foodservice.”

In Southern California, retail clients for i heart berries! have included Albertsons and Stater Bros. Markets.

“We’ve also shipped it to Kroger and sent it to Aldi’s in Chicago,” Akahoshi said.

“We’ve sent some of the central Mexico crop to Food Lion. We are moving five to 10 loads per week on average.”

The strawberries ship year-round.

Akahoshi was added to the Interfresh sales desk in February 2011 and given the assignment to grow the company’s berry business.

“We’re very pleased with the first year’s results and looking for steady and strong growth going into this year,” he said.

For the short term, only strawberries will ship under the i heart berries! label. But Interfresh has plans to expand the brand.

“We’ll be in Chilean blueberries for this coming winter in November and December,” Akahoshi said.

“We’re considering blackberries, but it’s just a matter of finding the right growers to partner with. For the next 12 months it’ll be strawberries, incorporating some blueberries toward the end of the year.”

Export is showing some progress. Interfresh started shipping strawberries to France shortly before the i heart berries! label came out.

Shipments of the same commodity to Hong Kong and Singapore began the first weekend of March.

Interfresh was founded in 1987. At first it supplied a group of upscale independent markets, and expanded from there.

Commodity lines include avocado, citrus, melons, pineapples, grapes, onions and others. Interfresh also has a Nogales, Ariz., deal for winter tomatoes and squash.

In California, the company has a warehouse in Vernon and a sales office in San Bruno in addition to its Orange headquarters.

Its website is