(April 13, 1:35 p.m.) The addition of a grower from the largest blueberry growing state should increase volume for SunnyRidge Farm Inc.

The Winter Haven, Fla.-based SunnyRidge April 9 said it plans to lease farmland from and sell berries for Leduc Blueberries LLC, a longtime member of MBG Marketing, Grand Junction, Mich., which co-owns Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms LLC.

The Paw Paw, Mich.-based Leduc is expected to bring 2.5 million to 3 million pounds of fresh blueberries to SunnyRidge, which last season represented 2.4 million pounds from Michigan.

The partnership, called BlueberryRidge LLC, will operate from Leduc’s packing, precooling and storage facilities and provide berries during Michigan’s early July through late September season.

A second-generation operation founded in 1955, SunnyRidge plans to retain Joe Leduc, owner, to manage the growing and packinghouse operation.

SunnyRidge plans to pack Leduc’s berries as well as for area contract growers. The berries will be packed under the SunnyRidge Farm label.

Jerry D’Amore, SunnyRidge’s business development manager, said the Leduc partnership has been several years in the making. He said SunnyRidge last season represented a portion of Leduc’s crop

“They’re not jumping on a bandwagon,” D’Amore said. “They are top-tiered, period. We are so attracted to them because they have taken food safety and their fresh business very seriously for quite some time. For us, it is a critical part of our strategic plan for good year-round production for our customer base.”

Calls to Leduc were not returned at press time. Leduc’s owners weren’t available to explain why they ended their relationships with MBG.

A year-round blueberry supplier, SunnyRidge, which also sells blackberries, strawberries and raspberries, grows, packs and markets blueberries from its own acreage and other growers throughout the year from Florida, Georgia, California, North Carolina, Michigan, British Columbia, Argentina and Chile.

Last season, blueberries accounted for 40 million pounds of SunnyRidge’s 60 million pounds of marketed berries.