Category: Food Processing

Three Kings dairies get CDFA methane grants

  • By John Lindt in Hanford Sentinel

The California Department of Food and Agriculture has awarded $35.2 million in grant funding to 18 dairy digester projects across the state. These projects, part of the Dairy Digester Research and Development Program, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from manure on California dairy farms.

Projects approved in Kings County include $3 million to Wreden Ranch near Hanford, $3 million to Hanford-area dairy Cloverdale and Hollandia Farms, also of Hanford, awarded $1.5 million. Each dairy had to put up substantially more for their projects in matching funds.

Dairy manure produces methane when it decomposes. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that traps more than 80 times as much heat in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Dairy digesters help capture methane emissions, which can be used to produce electricity or natural gas.

Each project plans to capture methane emissions from a covered lagoon and transport the gas to a collection point to be converted to biomethane fuel for vehicles. The process turns an airborne pollution problem into a business opportunity.

Kern County leads US in agriculture production for first time

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Kern County tops the U.S. in agriculture according the Kern County Farm Bureau.

In 2016, Kern County produced more than $7.1 billion in agriculture with pistachio production leading the way.

According to the bureau, Kern County had never previously held the top spot in the state, let alone the country.

http://www.kerngoldenempire.com/news/local-news/kern-county-leads-us-in-agriculture-production-for-first-time/814380991

Gallo connecting with Stanislaus, Merced county schools to develop workforce

Central Valley Business Journal
By NORA HESTON TARTE

E&J Gallo works with students to train them in becoming part of its workforce.

MODESTO — E&J Gallo Winery is keeping employment local.

It was 2015 when the Modesto-based business noticed a gap in its workforce. There weren’t enough technical employees in the area to fill its needs. Instead of looking to surrounding communities to hire from, the company created a job-ready program with local schools to train high school graduates in the skills the company needed.

In the two years the program has been up and running, Gallo has hired 17 program participants to work at the winery.

“I learned that if you want a good-paying career you don’t need to leave [the area],” Edwin Valdivia Jacobo, a general winery worker who graduated Ceres High School Manufacturing and Green Technology Academy in 2015, said. “I have one here in my own backyard, and I didn’t even know it.”

“The program has helped area youth become better prepared for the world of work and gain real-life experience working in a manufacturing environment,” said Richard Coffey, Senior Director of Workforce development at Gallo. “The program provides all students with the opportunity to learn lifelong skills that are needed to be successful in the workforce, and, if selected for a paid internship, students are able to gain work experience, further develop their skills and ultimately apply for a position within the winery organization.”

The job readiness and internship program developed naturally out of an existing partnership between Gallo and the Ceres High School Manufacturing Academy.

“[Gallo] has been involved with the academy from its inception when we were approached by the school district to help develop the curriculum and study options as well as providing mentors to the program,” Coffey said.

Julessa Nava Ambriz, a level four operator at Gallo and a 2015 Ceres High Graduate, learned of the job readiness program in high school.

“At first, I shrugged it off, because in high school you’re just naïve about everything,” Ambriz said.

Ambriz asked other workers at Gallo about the program and heard lots of positive feedback. She, along with some friends, decided to apply. Her friends never followed through, but Ambriz did.
“Now I really try to tell others that are still in school to pursue it,” she said. “It has given me an opportunity to have a career and start my career and go to school. I can easily progress through the company with a few years under my belt, and it’s a great feeling knowing that I’m not stuck in one spot.”

After its success, Gallo expanded its offering to other schools to include Modesto City Schools, Ceres Unified, Hughson Unified, Turlock Unified, Patterson Unified, Madera Unified and Merced Unified.

Joining the program has several steps. First, candidates apply through their school district. Then, qualified students are invited to complete a 30-hour after-school program that runs once a week for 10 weeks.

The goal is to turn out students that are job ready by teaching them interview skills, résumé writing, communication skills, conflict resolution, change management and lean principles.

“I learned that teamwork and communication is huge part of being part of a company. They tell you that it is, but you really don’t believe it until you experience it,” Ambriz said.

After the job-readiness program is completed, students can apply for internships at Gallo. Performance during the program, including attendance, is taken into consideration.

At first, internships were only available on the operations side. However, after that proved successful, Gallo began offering internships on the winegrowing side as well, in vineyard operations.

“Interns that successfully complete the program are given the opportunity to interview for positions at the end of the internship,” Coffey said.

After the first year’s success, Gallo began working with Modesto City Schools to identify the different career technical education pathways that provided the technical aptitude and knowledge that best meet the company’s current job needs.

“There are so many different opportunities to move up and so many different career choices from … analysis, to marketing, to mechanic — anything you want to pursue, you can,” said Miguel Ortega, another level four operator who completed the internship program through Ceres High.

Opportunity Stanislaus, a local organization dedicated to supporting economic growth and vitality in the community, is helping, too. They pay for students’ WorkKeys tests, a necessary component of joining the workforce program.

The organization is also working to expand the program’s reach, working alongside Gallo employees to determine future needs and train area students to fill those roles. This will include providing targeted technical and manufacturing training programs to support current Gallo employees, including former interns. All programs are being developed to complement existing programs offered by MJC.

The goal is for Opportunity Stanislaus to be a dot connecter, connecting local job seekers with employees and education through partnerships in the community.

 

 

 

Del Monte Closing Indiana Plant, Shifting Work to California

AP
Sept. 12, 2017

Del Monte Foods plans to close a northern Indiana tomato processing plant with about 100 workers and shift its production to a central California facility.

PLYMOUTH, Ind. (AP) — Del Monte Foods plans to close a northern Indiana tomato processing plant with about 100 workers and shift its production to a central California facility.

The company announced Tuesday it would start layoffs in November as it ceases production at the Plymouth, Indiana, plant that makes ketchup, tomato-based sauces, and juice from concentrate. Warehouse and distribution work is expected to end by February, when the facility will close.

Del Monte says in a state filing that it expects the closing will be permanent.

The company says the closing will align its production capacity with current consumer demand. Production will be shifted to a plant in Hanford, California.

Bay Valley Foods said last month it would be closing its Plymouth facilities, eliminating about 150 jobs.

Madera companies show off

FRESNO

The Madera Tribune
August 5, 2017
by Tyler A. Takeda

More than 1,100 people converged to the Fresno Convention Center’s Exhibit Hall to view more than 140 exhibits at the seventh annual Fresno Food Expo, the largest regional food show in the nation.

Among the 140 exhibitors were 11 from the Madera area, including ENZO Olive Oil Company, which won two awards at the Expo.

“The expo is all about listening to the needs of our exhibitors and making meaningful connections to grow their businesses, expand collaborations and draw focus to celebrate Central California’s thriving food industry,” said David Nalchajian, general manager, Fresno Food Expo. “The synergy experienced this year among exhibiting companies is unlike what we’ve seen before. You’ve heard the reference ‘the seven year itch.’ In the case of the Fresno Food Expo, our seventh year has unleashed opportunity for year-round enrichment for our exhibitors where they’ve been able to immediately utilize tools and put them to work as part of overall growth strategies. The regional food industry, national and international buyers and the public are coming together at an entirely different level, which is both exciting and humbling.”


ENZO, which has a store in Clovis, but grows its olives in Madera County, won the Fred Ruiz Entrepreneurial Award, which honors an innovative Valley-based food or beverage company that demonstrates exemplary leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit, all while being an exceptional community steward. Named in honor of Fred Ruiz, founder of Ruiz Food Products, Inc., this award recognizes companies who have the same vision and qualities that took Ruiz Foods from a small, family start-up to the largest frozen Mexican food manufacturer in the United States. In addition to the award, ENZO will also receive advice and mentoring for a year from Ruiz and a team of food industry professionals.

“Anytime you can win an award with Fred Ruiz’s name attached is an honor and humbling at the same time,” said ENZO co-owner Vincent Ricchuitti. “One of the thing that resonated with him is our energy and our passion. The fact that we’re a family company and have been farming in Madera a long time. We re-invented part of our business to take on this venture. He recognized the challenge in that and saw the passion our family had for this venture.”


ENZO Olive Oil’s Fresno Chili Crush also took second place in the New Product Awards Buyer’s Choice Awards.

“The Fresno Chili Crush is one of our most well-received items we have ever made,” Ricchiuti said. “It’s an exciting night.”

Better Butter
Contact: Mallvinder Kahal, co-founder

Featuring: We’re showcasing our No. 1 product, our Better (almond) Butter. We’re sampling it with bananas and apples to show its versatility. But, we’re also showing the product on its own to show how rich it is.

What has been the response: Taste-wise, everything has been positive, which has boosted our confidence in the product. We’re really happy with the feedback on the product.

Where can people buy your product: Right now, our most successful spot to find us is on Amazon: Kahal Better Butter. We’re working on the local retailers to try to convince them that our product is something they want to carry. This Expo has also showed us how to approach distributors and retailers. We discovered a whole new slew of challenges, but at least we know what the challenges are versus walking in the dark.

Heart Ridge Farms
Contact: Steve Spears, national salesperson

Featuring: We’re pushing our line of seasoned almonds. We grow our own almonds. We have our own European dry roast process for almonds. We have various flavors.

What has been the response: The response from vendors, retailers and buyers has been very favorable. We’re somewhat new as far as having a focus, a more retail business.

Where can people buy your product: We are in the local Von’s stores and various brick-and-mortor stores. In 30-60 days, we will be in the more independent stores from Bakersfield to Stockton and Save Mart.

Cru Winery
Contact: Alexis Sosa-Valentine, tasting room and wine club manager

Featuring: We’re showcasing our pinot noir and chardonney.

What has been the 
response: Everyone loves the wine. They were both big winners at the San Francisco wine competition and big winners at the Expo today.

Where can people buy your product: We are located on Road 21 and Road 21 1/2. Our wine is also at BevMo, Save Mart, Von’s and Total Wine.

Wonderful Agricultural Management
Contact: Wayne Koligian, director of grower relations

Featuring: We are showing people our product and highlighting it. We tell people we manage and develop the land that goes from the farmer to the grocery store shelves.

What has been the response: They really like what we’ve shown. I brought 20 cases of pomegranate juice and it’s already gone. I brought 10 cases of Fiji water and it’s gone. I brought 18 cases of Wonderful Almonds and it’s already gone. We own a total of 30 businesses.

Riley’s Brew
Contact: Dan Riley, owner

Featuring: We’re showing off our Sancha, Cougar, Catching up IPA, California Mike Stout, two seasonals — mango sancha and Hammered. We have our gin, vodka, hard root beer, hard vanilla, hard orange and hard ginger. That’s all we brought.

What has been the response: Very good. People are enjoying it. It’s a win-win. People like it.

Where can people buy your product: We’re in Food Maxx and Save mart. We have our Riley’s Brew Pub on Temperance and Alluvial.

Rosenthal Olive Ranch
Contact: Kevin Rosenthal, owner.

Featuring: We’re showing off all of our flavored olive oils, our extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegar.

What has been the response: We’ve gotten an overwhelming response over everything, especially our garlic olive oil.

Where can people buy your product: We are at The Market at Herndon and West, Sumner Peck Fruit Stand and they also use it exclusively at The Vineyard Restaurant and our ranch, Avenue 9 between Road 29 and 29 1/2.

San Joaquin Wine Company

Featuring: All of the wines available.

Sierra Valley Almonds
Contact: Kurt Friedenbach, sales and marketing

Featuring: We are featuring our new blanche line and flour. Blanche is where you take the almonds and take the skins off. They use it for confectionery.

What has been the response: We mainly serve the industry rather than retail. Today is mainly about some buyers that come into Fresno.

ENZO Olive Oil Company
Contact: Vincent Ricchuiti, co-owner

Featuring: We’re featuring our entire line.

What has been the response: The Fresno Chili Crush really wows everyone. It’s really versatile. It may be the only Fresno chili olive oil made.

Where can people buy your product: We have our own store in Clovis (Shepherd and Willow), Save Mart, Von’s, Sierra Nut House, Sam’s Deli and a lot of places.

Barnett Meats
Contact: Jason Barnett, owner

Featuring: Our seasoned tri-tips that are in the grocery store, as well as our deli and grocery store in Oakhurst. We did 2,000 samples last year. It went great. We were way too busy to do it this week.

What has been the response: We had them hooked and sold it. Now they are furious. The problem was getting down here for the show. We’ve been so busy, it’s ridiculous.

Where can people buy your product: Two Von’s in Clovis, two Von’s in Fresno, Pack-N-Save in Madera, Von’s in Oakhurst as well as our deli in Oakhurst.

Ruiz Foods expansion, Best Buy deal among good news for Dinuba

published on June 23, 2017
Written by David Castellon

The summer is starting well for Dinuba’s economy, as the city has attracted a large printing and direct-mail business, will see Ruiz Foods expand and inked a new sales tax-sharing deal with its Best Buy Co. distribution center.

Under that 45-year deal, the city’s portion of the electronic giant’s online sales fulfilled from its West Coast distribution center in Dinuba will increase from about $5 million annually to $8 million.

“Sales tax makes up 41 percent of the city’s General Fund revenues. Now a new deal stabilizes the amount and grows it as online sales grow. Above a certain amount the city and Best Buy share sales tax 50-50,” City Manager Luis Patlan states in a press release.

The release doesn’t offer a more detailed explanation of the deal.

“An $8 million nugget every year should make a big impact in a town that as recently as 2014 had sales tax revenue of only $3.3 million from all sources,” the press release continues.

Best Buy has reported that its first-quarter e-commerce sales for 2017 were up by a dramatic 22.5 percent compared to the first three months of last year.

E-commerce comprises about 13 percent of Best Buy’s domestic sales.

In other good news for the city, Woodside Homes is developing new homes on 107 parcels at the planned Ridge Creek Ranch subdivision, near Ridge Creek Golf Club.

Model homes are scheduled to open in July.

In addition, the former Kmart department store at in the 2000 block of East El Monte Way is being remodeled for a new tenant, a Fitness Evolution gym, Dinuba officials report.

http://thebusinessjournal.com/ruiz-foods-expansion-best-buy-deal-among-good-news-dinuba/

 

It’s the cream of the local crop at Fresno Food Expo

BY STEFANI DIAS
The Bakersfield California

Jul 7, 2017

While companies from around the globe descend on New York to set national trends, the San Joaquin Valley has its own gathering of what’s up and coming in local foods. For the seventh year, this two-day event serves as the nation’s largest and only regional food show.

More than 150 valley food growers, producers, brewers and winemakers — including our own Kern Ridge Growers — are expected at the expo on July 26 and 27, which also draws nearly 1,000 local, regional, national and international buyers.

A leader in the carrot industry for more than 35 years, Kern Ridge has been with the expo since 2012 and seen it grow.

“The show initially was pretty small but it’s really grown,” Kern Ridge sales manager Andrew Bianchi told The Californian before last year’s event. “There is a lot of participation from growers and shippers.”

Much of the expo is industry-driven, but in recent years it has added Expolicious, a food-tasting event open to the general public highlighting the best area products.

In addition to returning attendees, one famous fan of the valley’s bounty is also scheduled to appear: Simon Majumdar. The celebrity chef and author — known for judging such cooking shows as “Cutthroat Kitchen,” “Beat Bobby Flay” and “The Next Iron Chef” — attended last year’s expo and was so taken by the experience he’s returning to participate.

Majumdar has made a name for himself as a proponent of exploring regional cuisine. With a mission of “go everywhere, eat everything,” he has documented his adventures in three books, touring his homeland (“Eating for Britain”) and international spots (“Eat My Globe”) then exploring the United States (“Fed, White, and Blue: Finding America With My Fork”).

At a preview event with Fresno restaurants last month, the chef reiterated his amazement with what the region offers.

” … Central California is a hidden gem with a rising food scene that people absolutely need to take notice. The quality and array of products I discovered was incredible and the talent among chefs in the region is on par with San Francisco and Los Angeles.

“I am excited to return this year, connect with these companies to see how their products are doing and continue to be part of telling the story of the incredible food culture brewing in this vibrant region.”

He will take part in the July 27 public event at which attendees can sample and enjoy hundreds of delicious food and beverage products including fresh fruit, wine, beer, ice cream, cheese, barbecue sauce and more from an array of area companies.

In addition to the chef, “Supermarket Guru” Phil Lempert will also attend the expo, serving as keynote speaker on July 26 at an address for buyers, sponsors and exhibitors. For more than 25 years, Lempert has served as an expert analyst on consumer behavior and retail trends, identifying and explaining impending trends to influential business leaders in the food industry.

Almond huller’s solar panels make efficient use of land

Central California 

MARCH 31, 2017
Modesto Bee
BY JOHN HOLLAND

A triangle of land is doing double duty at Cortez Hulling, which takes the hulls off almonds at a plant near Ballico.

At ground level is a basin that captures heavy storm runoff directed away from the stockpiles of hulls, which are used mainly for dairy feed. On top are solar panels that provide 74 percent of the plant’s electricity.

JKB Energy of Turlock installed the system that way to minimize the footprint on this high-value ground.

“It uses the land in the most efficient way,” Chad Cummings, director of sales and marketing at JKB, said Wednesday. “I think that fits with the values of the ag industry and the values of solar.”

The plant, at Santa Fe and Cortez avenues, is a longtime part of the California almond industry. Booming sales have led to large gains in land values.

The solar system has cut conventional power costs by about $110,000 a year.

“It keeps our Turlock Irrigation District bill low, and doesn’t get in the way of operations,” said David Thiel, general manager of the Cortez Growers Association, which owns the plant.

Cummings said the installation cost was slightly higher than normal because of the need to put the panels on concrete supports above the basin, but it still penciled out.

JKB is one of several solar companies working with farmers and food processors. They have conserved land also by putting panels on rooftops or using them to shade parking lots.

Three new brewers set their sights on Downtown Fresno

Central California

February 10, 2017
Written by Valerie Shelton

A trio of new brewers are looking to locate production of craft beer to Downtown Fresno, joining trailblazer Tioga-Sequoia.A trio of new brewers are looking to locate production of craft beer to Downtown Fresno, joining trailblazer Tioga-Sequoia.With revitalization efforts well underway in Downtown Fresno, and the success of long-time local breweries Tioga-Sequoia and Full Circle Brewing, other brewers are getting ready to plant their flag near new Fulton Street and revolutionize the area.

Already on tap for some time, Sanger brewery House of Pendragon, which has a popular tasting room in Clovis, is teaming up with Visalia restaurant and gastropub Pita Kabob to bring HoP/PK to an old two-story sports bar located at 820 Van Ness Ave. After more than a year of renovation, the long-awaited 32-tap bar and Mediterranean restaurant is finally set to open by June.

While excitement mounts for HoP/PK, three brand new breweries have also announced plans to establish roots in Downtown Fresno this year.

In January, Border Hop Brewing signed a lease on a 9,600 square-foot building at 721 Broadway St. in the South Stadium District. And just down the street, at 411 Broadway St., another business has signed on to bring a brewery and the city’s first craft distillery under the company name 411 Broadway Ales and Spirits. A third operation, Zack’s Brewing, is currently assessing a property a mile and a half away in the Mural District.

Meanwhile, Downtown Fresno’s two existing breweries are gearing up for expansion. Tioga-Sequoia recently acquired the 14,000 square-foot Amvets building on Inyo and Broadway streets next to its current beer garden and taproom on 745 Fulton St. And under new ownership, Full Circle Brewing is planning to expand its beer selection and production with hopes to bring bottles to local stores.

These stirring plans are just the beginning according to Downtown Fresno Partnership President and CEO Aaron Blair.

“The craft beer industry is starting to boom in Downtown Fresno, and this is a very important part of our success,” Blair said. “They contribute to place making, are growth-oriented exporters and attract tourists. Craft beer is the perfect fit for the ever-changing downtown culture and creative spirit.”

Tioga-Sequoia — the trailblazer

Home of the General Sherman IPA, 99 Golden Ale, and other beers featuring a local moniker, Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co.’s beer garden has been a popular downtown hangout since 2010. A great place to grab a cold one after a Grizzlies game, the brewery’s outdoor patio has been known to draw hundreds, and even thousands, of craft beer enthusiasts downtown to events like FresYes Fest.

With an additional 14,000 square-foot building at its disposal, Tioga-Sequoia Marketing Manager Michael Cruz said the brewery plans to enhance its current beer garden and ramp up its production.

Currently, Cruz said, Tioga-Sequoia produces close to 9,000 barrels annually, but theoretically, Tioga-Sequoia now has the capacity to produce upwards of 40,000 barrels.

“The top 50 breweries in the country are producing around 80,000 barrels, so this is significant,” Cruz said. “Of course, capacity is one thing and being able to sell that much is another.”

Phase one of expansion plans, Cruz said, is to move all production and storage into the new facility, creating more space for guests at the beer garden. New tanks and upgraded equipment will also be added to steadily increase production, while the beer garden will get a facelift with upgraded aesthetics, such as façade improvements.

Moving into phase two, Cruz said Tioga-Sequoia plans to continue adding tanks and upgrading equipment, and there is a possibility an indoor tasting room could be added for special events. In the beer garden, he said, phase two will come after purchasing the property or renegotiating the lease. The hope, he said, is to add permanent restroom facilities, a pergola, heaters/coolers, misters and other more permanent changes.

In stretching its downtown roots, Cruz said Tioga-Sequoia wants to continue bringing attention to Fresno.

“It was a conscious decision to plant our flag here. Now we want to grow our roots even deeper and help aid the cause of downtown by being a beacon for change,” Cruz said.

Cruz said Tioga-Sequoia is happy to see other breweries choosing to set up shop downtown as well.

“Breweries get along well together,” Cruz said. “The best part is we all know each other. These are local brewers, not big out-of-town brewers who don’t understand the culture, so I think our businesses will all be successful downtown as we support one another.”

An old favorite comes Full Circle

Arthur Moye, one of the new co-owners of Downtown Fresno’s oldest modern brewpub, Full Circle Brewing Co., which first opened its doors in an 8,700 square-foot warehouse on F Street in 2000, said he too is excited to see new breweries headed downtown.

“Revitalization is all about the density of stuff to do, and if there is cool stuff going on in close proximity to Full Circle and more people coming downtown, that is good for us,” Moye said, adding that he envisions an original craft beer community in Fresno that can sustain around 30 breweries.

As others breweries get established downtown, Moye said Full Circle Brewing is focusing on broadening its influence in the craft beer community by bottling its beers to sell in Central Valley liquor stores. To make this possible, three tanks are being added to the Full Circle Brewing system.

Most likely, bottled selections will include Full Circle’s keynote, the Juicy Northeastern IPA, and its flagship Cluster Fuggle Cream Ale, and one rotating seasonal beer.