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WINTER HAVEN, FL -- SunnyRidge Farm continues to expand its operations with plans for a new distribution center in Hawthorne, FL, located 15 miles east of Gainesville, FL.

The new facility will feature over 26,000 square feet of distribution and packing space and will service growers in the fast-growing Hawthorne region, which is expected to see significant growth over the next five years. Construction began on the facility in December and is expected to be complete by the end of March 2011, according to a Jan. 6 company press release. Initially the facility is slated to handle blueberry needs, with plans to expand to other berries in the near future.

"We are very excited about the opportunities for this new facility. Its excellent location helps us close the geographic gap that currently exists between our central Florida and southern Georgia distribution facilities, allowing us to provide a higher quality product and increased speed to market. We look forward to being able to better serve our family of growers in this fast growing berry region," Keith Mixon, president and chief executive officer of SunnyRidge Farm, said in the release. SunnyRidge anticipates marketing more than 6 million pounds of Florida blueberries during the upcoming 2011 season.

SunnyRidge Farm Inc., family owned and operated since 1993, is a grower, packer, shipper and marketer of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries delivering quality product to meet its customers' unique needs.