(Jan. 3) ATLANTA — Do Ripe Farms LLC is gladly trading two days for the Birds Eye Fresh label.

Atlanta-based Do Ripe has specialized in delivering tomatoes to retailers that are three days off the vine, allowing the product to further ripen on the way to the store.

Now, under the Birds Eye Fresh brand, Do Ripe will sell tomatoes that have had five days to ripen. Do Ripe on Dec. 24 signed an agreement with Birds Eye Fresh, through its tomato branch, San Clemente, Calif.-based Dave Westendorf Produce Sales Inc., to market tomatoes under the Birds Eye Fresh label, said Phillip Hall, Do Ripe’s sales manager.

Do Ripe will ship grape, cherry and roma tomatoes under the Birds Eye label across Do Ripe’s 12-state distribution area — primarily the Midwest and South — beginning around New Year’s. Do Ripe also will continue to offer its premier line of Ripe Thing tomatoes.

The company also will launch a line of variety peppers, squash, eggplant and zucchini under the Birds Eye Fresh label.

“I hope to double our sales this next year, and we’re now a $12 million company,” Hall said.

Hall said projected volume figures were not yet available. However, he said, the company has added 25,000 square feet of cooler space to its Atlanta facility and will use more fully its 27 distribution centers to accommodate the volume.

Tomatoes under the Birds Eye brand will be offered in 16- and 20-ounce packs.

Do Ripe traditionally has shipped product from its own network of 58 growers in several regions of the U.S. With the Birds Eye agreement in place, however, the company now will be able to source product from outside the U.S., Hall said.

“Now we’ve taken the items that we weren’t as competitive with on price, and it gives us a tremendous advantage for price competition,” Hall said. “We can have a national label and not really tie ourselves, price-wise.”

In-season shipments from the field and hothouses in Mexico and Canada will ensure that prices and quality will remain competitive, he added.

“Sometimes Florida fruit isn’t the best, and you need to go south (to Mexico), and Birds Eye gives us a tremendous advantage,” he said.

Do Ripe, which longtime grower Robert Hoch launched in 1994 as a purveyor of vine-ripe tomatoes, has long trumpeted a “red, ripe and ready” philosophy in advertising the freshness of its product, which it ships three days off the vine.

Product shipped for Birds Eye will be five days off the vine, Hall said.

“Instead of just being Ripe Thing, it gives us a combination of being the purest, truest item,” Hall said.

“With Ripe Thing, we were three days off the vine, and with Birds Eye, we’re five days off the vine. Birds Eye has nice specs, too, and it gives us a little more room to store up a little bit.”