(Oct. 27) GRAND JUNCTION, Mich. — The world’s largest blueberry grower and marketer is expanding its handling facilities.

MBG Marketing/Michigan Blueberry Growers Association had groundbreaking ceremonies Oct. 25 for construction of its 22,000-square-foot facility.

The building will increase MBG’s precooling, storage and shipping capacity, said Tony Kucharski, MBG’s Great Lakes operations manager.

“With the tremendous amount of fresh berries were getting in now, the new facility will help us precool them faster and increased their shelf life and overall quality,” he said.

For the first time, all of MBG’s packing operations will be housed in one facility. By having everything under one roof, the new building — being built between MBG’s warehouse and offices— will increase efficiencies, Kucharski said.

Though he declined to provide information on volume and capacity, the facility will nearly double MBG’s capacity, Kucharski said.

The cooperative’s 230 Michigan grower members farm 18,000 acres, about half of Michigan’s blueberry acreage. MBG has 120 other grower members in Georgia and Florida.

Construction of the building, which has its foundation poured, is ahead of schedule, Kucharski said.

It is scheduled to be in operation by early June, in time for the start of Michigan’s blueberry season.

Kucharski attributes MBG’s increasing fresh packing to publicity of the healthful benefits of blueberries and through its international marketing partnership with Global Berry Farms LLC, Naples, Fla.