Southern Specialties Inc. is ramping up its Southern Hemisphere blueberry volume.

In early December, the Pompano Beach, Fla.-based grower, importer, processor and shipper of specialty produce began receiving arrivals from Chile via air.

Though it has been in the Chilean deal for several years, Southern Specialties hasn’t imported large volumes.

This season, however, the company expects to double its volume of shipments, said Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development.

Eagle said the company has made commitments that allow it to offer 225,000 cartons this season, considerably more volume than it has shipped in the past.

“We have made investments with growers and have put energy into garnering a new customer base,” Eagle said. “It just seems to us that the blueberry category is a no-brainer. It’s a product that brings true value to the container in that it’s one of the most healthful fruits available. Blueberries are more shelf-stable than some of the other berries.”

Southern Specialties has been packing imported berries under other companies’ labels but in early December began packing 6-ounce, 1-pint and 18-ounce clamshells in its Southern Selects label, Eagle said.

The importer, which receives offshore blueberries by airplane and boat, also offers North American blueberries through partnerships and contracts with growers in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Mississippi and British Columbia.

Southern Specialties also imports product from Central America and Mexico.

Southern Specialties expands Chilean blueberry imports