(UPDATED COVERAGE, Sept. 27)
Red Blossom plans to add Florida strawberries to its lineup this winter, opening up a Plant City office and bringing on growers.
The company, with sales headquarters in Oxnard, Calif., sources strawberries from more than 2,500 acres in California and Mexico, and has partnered with Plant City-based McDonald Farms for Florida berries. McDonald Farms grows the festival and radiance variety strawberries on 200 acres.
Mark McDonald, his son Shane McDonald and nephew Andy McDonald have all joined Red Blossom. Mark is office and sales manager, Shane is sales assistant and Andy is ranch manager, Red Blossom President David Lawrence said.
Lawrence said the company was already year-round on strawberries, and has sourced from Florida in the past, but thinks a consistent presence is important.
“This will help us take care of our customers on the East Coast and ensure our customers are able to buy from us year-round in good supplies,” Lawrence said.
The company expects to pack 800,000 boxes of McDonald Farms strawberries this year, and is hoping to add growers to the program.
“We’d like to have 300-400 acres total in Florida that we’re marketing for,” Lawrence said. “We hope when more growers find out we have a program down there, we’ll be getting contacted to market their berries.”
Red Blossom’s new office, on the Plant City State Farmers’ Market at 1307 Martin Luther King Boulevard, takes over space formerly occupied by Severt Sales LLC. Mark McDonald was a partner in Severt Sales, but he and the company parted ways when it left the Plant City strawberry business this year.
Lawrence said he made the transition to Red Blossom around Sept. 1.