Category: Food Processing

VOLT Institute Graduates Inaugural Class

MODESTO, CA — On June 27, nearly a year after opening, VOLT Institute saw the graduation of its
first class of maintenance mechanic students. VOLT Institute, a partnership of Opportunity Stanislaus
and Stanislaus County Office of Education, was started at the request of local employers looking for
skilled candidates to fill existing and future vacancies. Employers set a priority of training maintenance
mechanics, a field with widespread shortages including over 300 openings in Stanislaus County alone.
Austin Parker, 22, is one of the graduates. He credits the program with his new job at Hughson Nut,
citing the teachers, hands-on learning, and personalized pace as benefits. “VOLT was a great
opportunity,” said Parker. “It has already opened up a ton of doors for me. The instruction at VOLT
was hands-on and kept pace with students and the job placement assistance was beyond what any other
college would do. Thanks to VOLT I no longer just have a job- I have a career.”
Parker’s situation is not unique. In fact, VOLT boasts an 88% placement rate among graduates.
Opportunity Stanislaus CEO David White has been a driver of VOLT since the planning stages. “We
have come so far so fast and are excited about the momentum we’re gaining,” said White. “We have
the best equipment—machines that simulate industry facilities—and we have a team that is absolutely
committed to the success of the students. We look forward to great things.”
In addition to the 11-month Industrial Maintenance Mechanic program, VOLT also has a 3-month
Certified Production Technician program and workshops on a wide variety of business topics. Training
areas will continue to expand as the student population and capacity grows. “Stanislaus County Office
of Education has a tradition of preparing students for the workforce through education,” said Executive
Director Deb Rowe. “VOLT is a great example of multi-sector partnership training, the industry
recognized certifications through VOLT qualify student for a living wage job which affirms we are
headed in the right direction to support our community and beyond.”
VOLT Institute recently made news when it was awarded $1,000,000 in the 2018-19 California State
Budget to expand training for high-demand careers in manufacturing, one of the county’s most critical
industries. The funding will support the expansion of an education and training partnership between
Modesto Junior College (MJC), Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE), and Opportunity
Stanislaus to prepare students for jobs based on employer demand. The grant will serve as the local
match necessary for a federal United States Department of Commerce, Economic Development
Administration grant.
New classes start October 8 and continue through September 5 of 2019. For more information or to
enroll please visit www.voltinstitute.com or call 209.566.9102.

Tulare Meat Locker earns top prize at national competition

Calley Cederlof,

Aug. 1, 2018

For the second year in a row, Danny Mendes, owner of Tulare Meat Locker & Sausage Co., took home several wins at the American Association of Meat Processors’ American Cured Meat Championships, held in Kansas City.

Except this go around, he came home with even more “hardware” to showcase at his Tulare shop.

Mendes won awards for five different meat products, one of which earned grand champion: his hot link sausage.

The sausage, which he recently dubbed the “Kansas City Red Hot” is the shop’s newest item on the menu. The sausage beat out 15 other competitors for the top spot, including a Kansas City local.

He is the first to win in the category, which was introduced this year, he said.

“I’m pretty proud of that,” Mendes said of the win. “Here I come from California and come out with grand champion.”

Danny Mendes, Tulare Meat Locker owner, took home top honors in several categories during the American Cured Meat Championships in Kansas City. His crew has been working on the selections for months.
Danny Mendes, Tulare Meat Locker owner, took home top honors in several categories during the American Cured Meat Championships in Kansas City. His crew has been working on the selections for months. (Photo: Eric Woomer/ Visalia Times-Delta,)

The hot-link is a regional item known mostly in Oklahoma and Texas, said Jon Frohling, past American Association of Meat Processors president.

“For a California boy to go down there and win that — it’s a big deal,” Frohling said. “Especially when you’re not eating it every day.”

Other awards earned by Mendes include reserve grand champions for his bone in ham and braunschweiger — a German liver sausage. His boneless ham won champion and his country dry cured bacon was crowned reserve champion.

Mendes said he is excited about the wins.

“It’s been great, especially in with the bone-in ham (category),” Mendes said. “That’s one that I’ve really been wanting to master.”

In total, Mendes brought 22 products to the event, which flew with him on the plane packed in ice.

This is only his second year at the competition. Last year, he earned grand champion for his smoked bratwurst sausage and reserve grand champion for his andouille sausage.

At the competition, products are judged on a 1,000-point scoring system. Judges score based on several factors including internal and external appearance, color, aroma and flavor — the most important of all, Frohling said.

“If you win at that show, you’ve got a great product,” he added.

Tulare Meat Locker & Sausage is one of only two shops in California to take home awards at this year’s event and is the smallest shop competing.

When he arrived home on Sunday, he was celebrated with family, friends and customers. It was also extra special, it was his birthday.

Danny Mendes, Tulare Meat Locker owner, took home top honors in several categories during the American Cured Meat Championships in Kansas City. His crew has been working on the selections for months.
Danny Mendes, Tulare Meat Locker owner, took home top honors in several categories during the American Cured Meat Championships in Kansas City. His crew has been working on the selections for months. (Photo: Eric Woomer/ Visalia Times-Delta,)

“My kids had signs that said, ‘welcome home Daddy,’ and we met up with family the next day,” Mendes said. “I got a lot of calls and texts. It was a warm welcoming for sure.”

Mendes also posted the news on Facebook, where customers and friends flooded him with congratulations messages.

“Not surprised because your meats are amazing and deserving of every one of these awards,” wrote Steven Jorgens.

Tulare Meat Locker & Sausage Co. offers custom butchering of livestock and fresh meat that isn’t sliced until ordered. Sausages, snack sticks, hams, tri-tip and linguica are also available.

In February, Mendes also took home 11 awards at the California Association of Meat Processors convention.

He’s already planning ahead to next summer when the national compeition will be held in Alabama.

For more information, call 688-2047 or visit the shop at 1531 E. Bardsley Ave. in Tulare.

https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/news/2018/08/01/tulare-meat-locker-takes-home-top-prize-national-competition/872651002/

Fresno Food Expo opens with plenty of fancy food, drink and new name

Biggest cold storage in the Valley planning to get even bigger

It’s not your typical summer weather inside Fresno’s US Cold Storage. Temperatures can reach freezing or even as cold as -60 degrees.

US Cold Storage General Manager Kris Sali said, “Normally you can see your breath and glasses fog up, that’s part of the business.”

The Fresno business takes products mostly grown, or made in the Valley, and stores them in cold or freezing temperatures until they’re shipped out to stores.

Workers have to be dressed from head to toe for the cold work.

“It gets pretty cold. The guys do a good job of keeping the work going while in this kind of environment, but we have these heated suits, but its definitely a harsher environment than what people are used to, but in the summer its actually pretty nice,” said Sali.

About 120 million pounds of food is stored on shelves, from Wawona peaches to Challenge butter to McDonald’s hamburgers patties. The cold temperatures are vital to keeping the quality as it travels from the Valley across the nation and even across the world.

“We try to do the best we can to make sure the food is safe because people are going to eat this,” said Sali.

Besides holding the product, they also do flash freezing to -60 degrees.

More than 100 employees help run what is already the biggest cold storage in the Valley, and more will be hired for their new facility.

Because of the demand, US Cold Storage will be expanding. Their second facility in Fresno, just down the road, opens in August.

Valley Ventures helps entrepreneurs earn millions of dollars

Submitted by Geoff Thurner, Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Fresno State University

In its first year, the Valley Ventures Accelerator has helped 25 companies attract $10 million in sales and $9 million in investment capital. Participating companies include founders from Fresno as well as Chile, Brazil, and South Korea, with many continuing to maintain business relationships throughout the Central Valley.

The three-year program is coordinated by the International Center for Water Technology at Fresno State and provides guidance on sales, marketing, distribution and venture capital for emerging companies in the water, agriculture and energy technology fields.

Funding was made possible by a $500,000 federal grant through the Regional Innovation Strategies i6 Challenge and Seed Fund Support Grants competition and the BlueTechValley innovation cluster funded by the California Energy Commission.

Companies accepted into the program must demonstrate the potential to have region and industry economic impact, along with the ability to improve the efficient use of scarce natural resources. Other evaluation criteria include commercial value, environmental impact, fundability, leadership, potential return, personnel skills and scalability.

The previous cohort’s 13 companies included Agri-logix, AjO, Azadi, BioFiltro, BLH Aguatech, BoxPower, HerdDogg, Map Thread, Re-Nuble, Spooky Action, Sweep Energy, Tiny Farms and Waterfind.

“We look forward to continuing to attract a diverse group of new technologies,” said project coordinator Benjamin Francis. “The spring cohort showed great potential and included products and services that addressed problems such as renewable energy for disadvantaged communities, sustainable wastewater treatment, manufacturer equipment optimization, and even a sustainable alternate protein farming method involving crickets.”

One company, HerdDogg, used the campus farm to test its dairy cow ear tag technology that is also found in 10 states and in Australia, Brazil and Norway.

The unit sensor uploads physiological and GPS location data to the cloud online storage provider so managers can better track and monitor health and activity throughout the dairy.

The company’s founder and CEO, Melissa Brandao, fits the entrepreneurial pedigree that the cohort is trying to attract. She has worked the past decade on the development of specialty agriculture technologies; was the first female to found an electric vehicle company; and was one of 32 entrepreneurs and companies invited to participate in a White House Demo Day event in 2015.

“HerdDogg’s passion for animal welfare has helped the company enjoy a successful start, and is now looking to scale sales and increase its strategic activities with dairies throughout California,” Francis said. “HerdDogg utilized the Valley Ventures program to assist with improving sales, building a sales team, and raising a second round of funding.”

The Valley Ventures Accelerator is now accepting applications through August 1 for its third cohort.

The three-month cohort will select eight to 12 companies to participate in three, two-day sessions starting in September. The fall session will culminate in a final open-pitch demonstration in November to the public, industry members, campus faculty and staff and potential investors.

Participants will take part in exercises and learning modules led by professionals, investors, industry experts, successful entrepreneurs and target consumers. Guest speakers will also offer advice about the evolution of their successful companies at similar stages of customer and venture capital development.

For more information on the program, visit http://www.valleyventures.org or contact Benjamin Francis at 559.270.7121 or bfrancis@mail.fresnostate.edu.

 

https://campusnews.fresnostate.edu/july-16-2018/valley-ventures-helps-entrepreneurs-earn-millions-of-dollars

 

photo
(From left:) HerdDogg employee, Aaron Andrade; Ronaldo Brandao, Melissa Brandao’s husband; Ben Francis, project coordinator; and HerdDogg CEO/entrepreneur Melissa Brandao at the campus dairy.

Valley based juice shop looking to hire employees for new Fresno location

A Valley based juice shop is expanding and looking for new employees.

A Valley-based juice shop is expanding and looking for new employees.

Re-Invent Juicery is opening a store at Fig Garden Village next to CVS. The shop uses local and all-natural ingredients to make their cold press juices. Customers can also indulge in blended drinks and acai bowls.

It is their fourth location in the Fresno-Clovis area since they first opened for business in 2015. However, they did shut down their location on Ashlan and Fowler last month.

Re-Invent Juicery is currently hiring for their new location and is hoping to open on July 20th.

Rosa Brothers named Small Business of the Year

Rosa Bros small business day 2018
Noel Rosa, left, with Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) during California Small Business Day in Sacramento on June 19. Vidak recognized Hanford-based Rosa Brothers Milk Company as Small Business of the Year in Senate District 14.

From hardware stores to manufacturers, small businesses are ingrained in California’s communities and economy, which is why Hanford’s Rosa Brothers Milk Company was recently recognized for its hard work and dedication to the community by being named Small Business of the Year.

“We are truly honored to be recognized by Senator Vidak on California Small Business Day,” Noel Rosa, president of Rosa Brothers Milk Company, said. “We have a great team of employees that work hard to produce the freshest, best-tasting milk products possible and we are happy to share our family’s farm fresh products with California consumers.”

On June 19, Rosa Brothers Milk Company was honored by Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) at California Small Business Day as Small Business of the Year in Senate District 14.

“It was an honor to welcome Noel Rosa to the Capitol,” Vidak said. “Rosa Brothers Milk Company is an outstanding small business and we are lucky to have them in the Central Valley. Noel, Rolland and all of their employees have built their business into one of the best dairies in California and their high-quality products are very popular across the entire state.”

California Small Business Day honored 75 small businesses for their contribution to the state’s economy. According to the California Small Business Association, small businesses contribute to 75 percent of California’s gross state product and over half of the state’s private sector jobs.

“California’s small businesses are the economic engine of our state,” Betty Jo Toccoli, president of the California Small Business Association, said in a released statement. “Rosa Brothers Milk Company was celebrated for their successful small business and contributions to the community.”

Operated by brothers Noel and Rolland Rosa, third generation dairy farmers, the company began production of its milk and ice cream in September 2012 with just a handful of stores selling their products.

According to the company’s website, the creamery was built with a few goals in mind:

  • To provide California families with the best-tasting dairy products found anywhere in the world.
  • To provide safe, pure dairy products that have not been overly processed or modified.
  • To keep milk quickly flowing to local stores for maximum freshness.
  • To provide a truly local product that comes through a transparent channel, allowing families to watch the milk all the way from the cow to the bottle or ice cream carton.

The Rosa Brothers have tried to remain true to their roots by hiring local, buying local supplies and making local products.

“We’re a truly local company based right here in Hanford,” Noel Rosa said.

Today, Rosa Brothers Milk Company products, including over a dozen of both milk and ice cream flavors, can be found in over 750 locations throughout California and have won several awards at the Fresno Food Expo.

“Their story is one of inspiration and determination and they are a perfect example of how small businesses are the backbone of our economy and provide much needed jobs in our communities,” Vidak said.

Noel Rosa said everyone at the company was humbled by the recognition and is proud to be part of the local economy. Most of all, he said they are very thankful to community and all the support they’ve received over the years.

Study Ranks Wonderful Co. as Top Growth Leader in Produce, Consumer Packaged Goods

Wonderful Pistachios

Wonderful Pistachios

Los Angeles-based Wonderful Company was named the no. 1 growth leader in produce and no. 1 in consumer packaged goods last year, according to a study released June 14 by the Boston Consulting Group and market research firm IRI.

Wonderful Company, which grows, markets and sells pistachios, almonds, citrus fruits, pomegranates, bottled water, wine and floral arrangements, took the top spots among mid-sized U.S. companies with sales between $1 billion and $5.5 billion.

“The Wonderful Company is relentlessly focused on driving healthier eating options,” said Adam Cooper, vice president of marketing for the Wonderful Company, in a statement. “Over the past 10 years, we’ve invested more than $3 billion in capital and $1 billion in marketing and brand building. With these investments, and consumers increasingly seeking nutritious choices, Wonderful is poised for even more growth in the future.”

According to the BCG report, Wonderful and other consumer packaged goods companies saw sales rise thanks to developing a range of offerings, targeting consumers, growing their portfolios and expanding into new markets.

“The market continues to be sluggish, but in identifying this year’s CPG growth leaders, we found that there are clear steps companies can take to uncover areas of growth,” said Peri Edelstein, a BCG partner and coauthor of the study, in a statement. “This includes developing a deep understanding of consumer demand, innovating to meet new occasions and using pricing strategically to enhance volume growth instead of as a tactic to drive dollar growth.”

The report looked at more than 400 public and private consumer packaged goods companies with annual U.S. retail sales of more than $100 million. The companies were ranked on dollar sales growth, volume sales growth and market share gains.

Privately held Wonderful Co. is a $4 billion company with 9,000 employees worldwide. Its brands include Wonderful Pistachios, Wonderful Halos, POM Wonderful, FIJI Water, Justin Wine and Teleflora.

The company is owned by Stewart and Lynda Resnick, who are ranked no. 7 on the Los Angeles Business Journal’s list of Wealthiest Angelenos with an estimated net worth of $6.5 billion.

http://labusinessjournal.com/news/2018/jun/14/study-ranks-wonderful-co-top-growth-leader-produce/

Berkeley winery finding success with Lodi winegrapes

By Nora Heston Tarte

Jeff Morgan’s company Covenant Wines purchases grapes from Lodi’s Mettler family for its wines.

LODI—This area’s reputation as a profitable region for winegrapes, especially zinfandels, is no secret.

So, when Jeff Morgan, winemaker and co-owner at Covenant Winery in Berkeley, wanted to add a Lodi zin to his lineup of vinos, he turned to Mettler Vineyards in Lodi.

“The Mettlers are the classic, good-natured American farmers,” Morgan said. “You know that a handshake from a Mettler means as much as any legal document.”

Morgan was familiar with the Mettlers before he moved his Napa wine operation to Berkeley in order to achieve an urban offering in a more populated area. For many years he enjoyed a career as a wine journalist for Wine Spectator magazine.

“My job was to know who the best growers were,” Morgan said. “The Mettler’s reputation proceeded them.”

The move also allowed Morgan and his team to ditch the custom crush facilities they were using for production and begin offering more brands under the Covenant aegis.

Today, Covenant Wines makes 18 wines on seven labels under the Covenant umbrella, including an Israel brand, Covenant Israel. All wine by definition is kosher, but Covenant goes the extra step, assuring every bottle produced by Covenant is handled in the cellar by only Sabbath-observant Jews.

Jeff Morgan, co-owner of Covenant Wines stands with a load of Mettler-grown grapes that are used in making the company’s wines.

Three of the brand’s wines are made exclusively from Mettler grapes. Two of those varietals, the zinfandel and the roussanne, are part of the Mensch label, a Yiddish word meaning a really nice person. The third wine, a chardonnay, is part of The Tribe label also sold under the Covenant umbrella.

Morgan, his wife Jodie Morgan and Covenant co-owner Leslie Rudd source grapes from other regions, including Napa Valley and Sonoma County to make many of their wines, but the only Lodi grapes used come from Mettler Vineyards.

Covenant produces 7,000 cases annually out of its Berkeley facility, plus an additional 3,000 cases in Israel. Mettler wines make up about 20 percent of total production for Covenant in the U.S.

“The wines that we have made with Mettler grapes have done quite well with the wine critics,” Morgan said, adding it’s not just the zin performing well.

Larry Mettler, owner of Arbor Vineyards and Mettler Family Vineyards, said the partnership with Covenant is going well. Every year the Lodi farming family is able to meet Covenant’s needs and orders have grown since the initial 2013 bottle Covenant produced using Mettler grapes.

“We know a little bit about the needs of wineries and small wineries because we are one,” Mettler said.

With 1,600 acres of wine grapes on farmland either owned or rented by the Mettler family, Mettler Vineyards has access to a lot of grapes, boasting 15 different varietals. Popular choices are cabernet sauvignons, zinfandels and petite sirahs.

Lesser-known varietals are also abundant, including pinotage, mourvedre and grenache, as well as whites such as chardonnay, which Covenant buys, and albarino.

Lodi’s climate is responsible for the variety. Grape availability is high because the climate and soil are both conducive to growing several varietals.

“If wineries are looking for product, Lodi is a good place for them to look,” Mettler said. “We can always supply the grapes in the highest quality because we can get them ripe.”

In all, 90 percent of the property’s grapes are sold to other wineries throughout California. The Mettlers have an estimated 12-15 buyers in all.

The other 10 percent is used to create the wines Mettler sells under its own label—Mettler Family Vineyards.

Mettler said word of mouth brings in most of the vineyard’s customers and the mid-range price in Lodi helps. A small brand may start with as little as one ton of grapes from Mettler, but larger wineries like Gallo and Constellation take more.

“We’re all across the board as far as size and volume,” he said.

Morgan cited the price point as one reason the Berkeley-based urban winery decided to shake hands with Lodi farmers. Once known for its Napa Valley cabernet, the Morgans were aware their wines came with a hefty price tag.

In order to reach a larger audience, they wanted to make more accessible wines that didn’t lack quality.

Their first attempt was with a Mensch zinfandel because the Lodi region is best known for its zins. After they found success with one, Covenant expanded to the other two varietals, both whites.

“They’re light, they’re fresh and they’re eminently quaffable,” Morgan said. “As we all know, wine is made in the vineyard, so we attribute that to the quality of the grapes.”

The first year Morgan purchased five tons of grapes from Mettler Vineyards, enough for 250 cases of wine. Today, annual orders range from 30-35 tons.

“Its been a good relationship,” Mettler said.

Berkeley winery finding success with Lodi winegrapes

Fresno State expands business school

 

Central Valley Business Times

June 1, 2018

  • To break ground on Ruiz Foods Executive Classrooms
  • “Vastly improves its ability to offer transformative educational experiences”

The Craig School of Business at Fresno State will host a public groundbreaking for its Ruiz Foods Executive Classrooms that will soon be constructed with stadium seating and the latest technology.

The celebration will be held at 9 a.m. on Thursday, June 7, on the north lawn in front of Duncan Patio. The Ruiz Foods Executive Classrooms are the result of a $1 million pledge made in May 2017 by Ruiz Food Products Inc., a Dinuba-based food manufacturing company.

The gift will help finance construction of an annex to the existing University Business Center and house two new executive classrooms with innovative education technology. “With two new executive-style classrooms, the Craig School of Business vastly improves its ability to offer transformative educational experiences,” says Robert Harper, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

“While the classrooms will be used for our executive MBA program and accelerated bachelor’s program, they will also serve as vital spaces for other students within the university as well.”

The Ruiz family has a history of supporting business education at Fresno State. Entrepreneur Fred Ruiz is a founder of the Institute for Family Business, a community resource that promotes family businesses as a catalyst for economic growth. Kim Ruiz Beck, chairman of Ruiz Foods, is an alumna of the Craig School and serves on the Foundation Board of Governors for the California State University, Fresno Foundation. In 2017, she earned the Top Dog Distinguished Alumna Award from the Fresno State Alumni Association.

The classrooms will be designed to replicate what executives would expect, allowing for faculty to fully utilize technology in presentations to improve learning outcomes for undergraduate, MBA and executive MBA students. The added space will also serve the community. When not in use for academic purposes, the space will be available for rental as part of the slate of services provided by the University Business Center. Mr. Harper says the anticipated completion date for the project is summer 2019.