SCARBOROUGH — Market Fresh Produce, based on Pleasant Hill Road in Scarborough, is going out of business this week, leaving about 700 commercial customers in southern Maine to find other suppliers of fresh produce.

Market Fresh’s owner, Stephen Goodrich, said the company’s 20 employees were notified last week that Saturday will be their last day of work.

Goodrich said his sales staff has been referring customers to a competitor, Native Maine Produce and Specialty Foods in Westbrook.

Goodrich, who also is the founder of PowerPay in Portland, attributed the closure to a difficult economy. Market Fresh’s closure will have no effect on PowerPay, a credit card services company that employs 160 people.

“We are saddened about having to close the doors after six years. I hate to see anyone out of a job, given this economy,” Goodrich said Wednesday.

Goodrich said some of his employees have been offered jobs with Native Maine Produce and Specialty Foods. Those who can’t find work will be offered severance packages.

Goodrich said his sales staff has tried to notify as many customers as possible about the closing.

Market Fresh has used 10 trucks to deliver produce, cheese and a few specialty foods to restaurants, markets, schools and hotels throughout southern Maine. Its sales for 2011 topped $5 million.

By comparison, Native Maine spokesman Troy Andrews said his company employs 86 workers and operates 22 delivery trucks. It has about 2,000 customer accounts. He would not disclose annual sales.

Andrews said the industry has become very competitive, which may have contributed to Market Fresh’s demise.

“We operate on a 24-7 basis. We bend over backwards for our customers,” Andrews said.

Goodrich said the produce industry has changed since he established Native Maine in 2005. More customers are doing their ordering online, eliminating the need for sales people.

“Before long, you will see this becoming a point-and-click industry,” he said.

Market Fresh was founded in 2005 by Goodrich and three partners. Goodrich is now the sole owner.

He also owns Morrison’s Maine Course, which produces seafood products including haddock chowder and lobster stew on Portland’s waterfront.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]