BY THADDEUS MILLER
FEBRUARY 07, 2019 03:29 PM,
Something new under the Valley sun: Marketing a table grape
• Delano growers start marketing what they say is a new table grape
• Tie marketing to pro basketball
Two families of grape growers in the Central Valley have partnered with the National Basketball Association to
introduce consumers to what they say is a new variety of table grapes.
The Campbell and Middleton families, owners of Blanc Vineyards in Bakersfield, have entered the company into a
multi-year licensing deal with the NBA that will see official league and team logos on packaging for its newest
varieties, including the “Pristine,” at supermarkets and in big box stores nationwide starting this month.
The Pristine, a large, crispy, green seedless grape, is the flagship proprietary variety grape of Blanc Vineyards. The
growers claim it is the best green variety globally. It’s the result of more than 20 years of cultivation, they say.
Sounding more like wine tasters, the growers say the grape “has a crisp snappy texture coupled with a taste that
starts off with a sweet vanilla streak and ends with a zesty Granny Smith apple finish.”
They are grown to retain firmness and fresh taste well after harvest. “Green grapes are natural, healthy snack food. To most
consumers, they’re all the same, but they’re really not, which is why we believe the NBA partnership makes
sense,” says Jack Campbell, co-owner of Blanc Vineyards. “The NBA does an unbelievable job ofhighlighting their athletes, and we are applying the same strategy to the grape industry.”
He says the growers thing that by putting consumers’ favorite sport- or team-logo on our packaging, they will be
able to instantly differentiate their products with a familiar and trusted name. “That gives us a huge advantage at
points of purchase and again for return sales,” Mr. Campbell says.
The NBA licensing agreement isn’t the first for the Campbells. Since 2015 the family has entered into licensing agreements with a variety of firms such as the Walt Disney Company to reach new customers.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture grapes represent a $6 billion crop in the U.S. with more than
seven million tons produced each year between 2015 and 2018, mostly in California. Blanc Vineyards is a joint venture between Four Star Fruit
Inc. and Delano Farms Inc. that began in 2010 in Delano, after growing grapes in Kern County for decades. This partnership gives both companies exclusive rights to grow and distribute Pristine variety grapes. The companies sell grapes from May to January and ship a combined 20 million boxes annually.
By Tim Viall, Special to The Record
Posted May 13, 2019
Residents of San Joaquin County live in, arguably, the most productive agricultural region in the world. But, as cities expand, farming and food production is pushed further each year into the countryside; many residents seldom think where that food on the table comes from, much less how it is harvested and produced.
To understand the agricultural underpinnings of our county, make your first stop the San Joaquin Historical Museum at Micke Grove Park south of Lodi. The museum story begins with an expanded Native Peoples Gallery, offering insight into the Native Americans who have been living in what is now San Joaquin County for more than 13,000 years.
The museum traces the Miwok- and Yokuts-speaking people, all with rich cultures and lifestyles. Native peoples here put up the greatest resistance to the Spanish-Mexican missions and fought battles with the largest army formed in Spanish-Mexican California. Videos bring to life the intricacies of traditional basket making, acorn preparation, deer hunting and native life.
An interactive circular display allows visitors to listen to recorded messages. In one recording, Glen Villa Jr. (Northern Miwok/Plains Miwok) tells about the First People and a traditional creation narrative. Another recording shares a traditional Yokuts story, told by Sylvia Ross (Chukchansi Yokuts), a third of the Indian freedom fighters led by Estanislao, for whom the Stanislaus River and county were named.
These exhibits work well with the other exhibits in the Erickson Building, and visitors can go in chronological order from the Native peoples who first inhabited the area, to an exhibit on the early trappers and the founding of French Camp, the first non-Indian community. Continue on to an exhibition on the early American settlers, then on to exhibits on the Gold Rush, a hands-on children’s gallery, and the adjacent Weber Gallery.
The Innovators of Agriculture exhibit features the development of intensive, irrigated agriculture in the county beginning around 1900. Six crops are the focus: dry beans, asparagus, cherries, walnuts, canning tomatoes and truck farming (growing of fruits and veggies, trucked to local markets). If you want insight into why our county is so ag-centric, start at this museum wonder! The museum is kid-friendly, with lots of “hands-on” options, and scores of huge tractors, harvesters and vintage farming equipment to wow even young visitors.
Expand your agri-history tour with a visit to the California Agricultural Museum in Woodland, north of Sacramento and just off Interstate 5. Gene Muhlenkamp, a docent since 1996, took two hours to show my friends and I through much of the museum. Its collection stems from that of the Heidrick Brothers, farmers who built a substantial farming empire west of Woodland beginning in the 1930s. Inventive, they often concocted their own machinery to solve farming challenges and began an extensive collection of vintage and noteworthy agri-machinery.
The museum offers a unique collection of tractors, artifacts and interactive exhibits telling the history of California agriculture. Implements date back to the Gold Rush era and follow California’s evolution from horse-drawn ag machinery to steam-driven and then on to fuel-powered machines. Wander the collection of wheeled and track-type harvesters, tractors, combines, trucks and photo galleries. You’ll even find a Ford Model T roadster converted to a farm tractor.
Museum items with a Stockton connection include an old Samson Sieve-Grip tractor, built in Stockton in the early 1900s, several huge Holt tracked-vehicles, built for the U.S. military in World War I to haul artillery pieces and take the place of horses, killed all too often in action. The huge Holt tractor, armored for wartime, has a number of dents in its armor from bullet strikes.
A monster-sized Best steamer seems almost too large to be true, dwarfing my friends who joined for the tour. A giant Holt harvester (made in Stockton), all of wood and timber with iron fittings, was once hauled through fields with a team of two dozen horses and mules, before steam power would replace the horses.
A display of vintage John Deere tractors, meticulously renovated, lines one long wall; down the center of the museum march a line of a dozen Caterpillar tractors, used both on the farm and in the construction industry. A midsized Fordson tractor, nicknamed the “Snow Devil,” is equipped with spiral-ribbed pontoons, used to navigate deep snows of Donner Pass to haul five tons of mail during winter’s harsh storms.
Museumgoers with kids will find a special play area designed to hearken back to simpler times when child’s play required imagination. Kids can play corn hole, and enjoy the carousel and pedal tractors. A team of docents will tour you through the 45,000-square-foot museum gallery, noting that each tractor, wagon or harvester all have their unique stories.
For more information: The California Agriculture Museum, 1958 Hays Lane, Woodland, (530) 666-9700, http://Californiaagmuseum.org, open Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; San Joaquin Historical Society and Museum, in Micke Grove Park, 11793 N. Micke Grove Road, Lodi, http://sanjoaquinhistory.org, (209) 953-3460, open Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
April 29, 2019
Central Valley Business Times
• New report shows growth in acreage given over to almonds
• Five times the size of the total area of Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield and Stockton – combined
The acreage planted with almonds in the Central Valley and the rest of the state last year increased by 2 percent from the year before,according to a new report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Last year, an estimated 1,390,000 acres were devoted to almonds. Almost all of that acreage was in the Central Valley.
The total is up 2 percent from the 2017 acreage of 1,360,000. Of the total acreage for 2018, 1,090,000 acres were bearing and 300,000 acres were non-bearing. And it’s increasing. Preliminary bearing acreage for 2019 is estimated at 1,170,000 acres. That’s five times the size of the total area of Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield and Stockton – combined.
Nonpareil continue to be the leading variety, followed by Monterey, Butte, Carmel, and Padre.
Kern, Fresno, Stanislaus, Merced and Madera were the leading counties. These five Central Valley counties had 72 percent of the total bearing acreage.
California once again led the nation in agricultural sales in 2017, with six Valley counties — along with one along the state’s Central Coast — topping ag sales across the nation.
This according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2017 Census of Agriculture, which gathers information annually on U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them.
Agricultural sales in California exceeded $45 billion in 2017 — about 12 percent of total U.S. ag sales — far outpacing the No. 2 state, Iowa, which had sales totaling about $29 billion, followed by Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Indiana.
But while the USDA lists the same top ag counties as the California Department of Agriculture, they don’t list them in the same order.
Most notably, the federal agency lists Fresno County as the top ag county in the nation for 2017.
CDFA placed Fresno County as third in sales that year, behind Kern and Tulare counties, respectively.
CDFA officials couldn’t be immediately reached to determine if the USDA census used different criteria in determining total ag sales.
The other four top ag counties were, in order, Monterey, Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin, all of which also are among the top seven ag counties on the USDA’s list.
The top commodities produced on farms nationally were cattle and calves, followed by corn, poultry and eggs, soybeans and milk. California lead the nation in milk production, a total of 18 percent.
Other California highlights from the farm census:
– The state’s top commodities were fruits and nuts, with $17.5 billion in combined sales; vegetables, with $8.2 billion; milk, with $6.5 billion; cattle and calves, with $3.1 billion; and horticulture, with $2.9 billion.
– Total farm production expenses for California totaled $37.8 billion.
– The average age of the California farmer was 59.2 years old, compared to the national average of 57.5 years old.
– Military veterans accounted for 10 percent of California farmers, compared to about 11 percent, nationally.
– At 14,552 farms, California was the top state using renewable energy-producing systems in agriculture. Solar was the most common renewable energy-producing system on farms and ranches in the state.
image via caloz.org
A new California organization has been formed to help investors and developers take advantage of federal Opportunity Zones.
CalOZ “will promote competitive, equitable and sustainable Opportunity Zone investments in California,” according to a release from the organization.
“Our state must embrace new strategies to rebuild an upward economy that works for all Californians,” said Kunal Merchant, president and Co-Founder of CalOZ. “Opportunity zones offer an important new tool, not only to promote economic mobility and the green economy in areas of our state that need it most, but also to re-evaluate and re-imagine how business, government, and community work together to foster a more competitive, equitable and sustainable economy in California.”
In President Donald Trump’s 2016 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, he outlined what was labeled Opportunity Zones, which offered tax breaks on capital gains for investments in distressed areas.
In Fresno, a number of the areas were established, including the Kings Canyon and Blackstone avenue corridors.
On average, Opportunity Zones have a poverty rate of nearly 31 percent with families making 59 percent of the median income for the area, according to the release, citing information from Economic Innovation Group.
“Opportunity zones offer an intriguing new pathway for our state to expand our middle class and restore the California Dream for all residents,” said Ashley Swearengin, Central Valley Community Foundation’s CEO and former Mayor of Fresno. “I’m thrilled to see CalOZ showing leadership on this issue and excited to support their work both in the Central Valley and state as a whole.”
CalOZ’s first priority will be coordinating with the state to create “high-impact” policies in addition to the ones being offered by the federal government. The plan is to create a “triple-bottom line mindset” for social, environmental and financial opportunities, according to the release.
“With more than three million Californians residing in opportunity zones, California can and must seize the chance to deploy an unprecedented source of private capital into the communities that need it most, “ said Jim Mayer, President and CEO of California Forward. “We’re proud to partner with CalOZ to support state and local action to ensure California emerges as a national leader in this program.”
The U.S. Department of the Treasury certified more than 8,700 qualified areas throughout the country. Of those, California has around 10 percent within its boundaries. And Fresno County is ranked third in terms of having the largest designated Opportunity Zones, according to Merchant.
Those designations will last through the end of 2028.
Bridgewater, N.J., U.S., March 8, 2019 – Today, Messer LLC (Messer) announced that it will begin construction on a new Carbon Dioxide (CO2) plant in Keyes, California. The plant will provide 450 tons-per-day of CO2, an essential product for carbonated beverages, food freezing & chilling, and electronics manufacturing. The product is also used by a wide range of industrial companies in northern California and surrounding areas. The new plant is slated for completion in Q4 2019.
“This investment represents our commitment to strategic U.S. expansion to meet growing market demand,” said Jens Luehring, President and CEO, Messer Americas. “We’re dedicated to providing a reliable supply of industrial gases to our customers and look forward to breaking ground on this plant to further meet that need.”
Messer currently operates two CO2 plants and two air separation units (ASUs) in California. Once completed, the new plant will support Messer’s strategy to enhance CO2 network reliability for customers.
On March 1, 2019, Messer Group and CVC Capital Partners Fund VII (CVC) acquired most of the North American gases business of Linde plc, as well as certain Linde business activities in South America. With over 70 production facilities and approximately 5,400 employees operating in the US, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, and Chile, Messer today is one of the leading industrial gas companies in North and South America. Together with Messer Group, the company represents a USD $3 billion global enterprise with presence in the Americas, Europe and Asia. For more information, visit. www.messer-us.com
A Tulare butcher is making a splash in the world of smoked and cured meats — again.
This time, it’s a bigger splash.
Danny Mendes, owner of Tulare Meat Locker & Sausage Co., recently took home several awards at the annual California Association of Meat Processors’ Cured Meat Competition held at California State University, Chico.
This is the fourth year Mendes has entered his prized meats in the competition and the second time the business has taken home the best in show award.
Mendes has made a name for himself and is quickly gaining state and national recognition.
“They didn’t know what Tulare was,” he said. “They know now.”
At the state competition, Mendes entered 28 products in 18 different categories. He took home 10 grand champion wins. In total, he took home 18 awards.
“Getting best in show two out of the four years is pretty awesome,” he said. “It was impressive — a feel-good moment.”
Mendes received grand champion awards for his bone-in ham, Italian bacon, jalapeno cheese stick, stadium franks black label, old fashion hot dogs, fresh Italian sausage, smoked bratwurst, cheddar bratwurst, jalapeno cheddar sausage, braunschweiger, garlic summer sausage, duck bacon and Linguica-style cottage bacon.
He also received a merit award for his sugar cured bone-in ham and turkey bacon.
But the big takeaway was the coveted Joe Cutler Memorial Best of Show for his Italian bacon. His sausage was judged against the grand champions of each meat category — many his own creations.
Mendes first started to work for Tulare Meat Locker, which originally opened in 1976, when he was only 13. After a call from the former owner in 2003, Mendes decided he wanted to take over the business.
Over the last 15 years, Mendes has worked on his technique and offers custom butchery to Tulare County residents and beyond.
His sandwiches are top hits at the annual Ag Expo and Tulare County Fair.
“That’s what makes this place unique, it’s all done in house,” he said.
The shop 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. He hopes to one day expand his storefront and offer all in-house made sandwiches.
The annual contest is open to all California Association of Meat Processor members and is judged by a panel of meat specialists.
Mendes is expected to compete at the national level this summer in Alabama.
Last year, he took home several wins at the American Association of Meat Processors’ American Cured Meat Championships, held in Kansas City.
Mendes won awards for five different meat products, one of which earned grand champion: his hot link sausage.
Tulare Meat Locker is located at 1531 E. Bardsley Ave.
Foster Farms on Thursday announced a multimillion-dollar capital investment project to support an expansion and upgrade of the company’s poultry processing facility in Livingston.
The company that supports 2,032 jobs in Merced County will expand the facility’s product lines and add jobs, according to a news release. The announcement comes as the company is possibly in discussions to be sold to meat industry giant Tyson Foods, CNBC reported Tuesday.
Foster Farms spokesperson Ira Brill would not say exactly how much the company planned to spend on the expansion, noting the firm is privately held.
“Foster Farms is expanding its Livingston operation to allow for future growth and diversification of our customer mix on the West Coast,” CEO Laura Flanagan said in the news release.
The expansion project is underway, the company said in the release, with completion scheduled for September. State and local leaders worked with the company to offer a $6.5 million economic incentive package.
“This is a perfect example of government working with local business to help keep jobs in the Valley and grow our economic base,” Merced County Board of Supervisors Chairman Lloyd Pareira said in the release.
Foster Farms employs about 12,000 people at poultry plants in Livingston, Fresno, Turlock, Porterville, the Pacific Northwest and the South. Max and Verda Foster started the operation in 1939 and it remains under family ownership.
“The city of Livingston prides itself for having such a dynamic and community-oriented company and we are pleased to see Foster Farms continue to grow and prosper here,” Livingston Mayor Gurpal Samra said in the release.
Neither Tyson nor Foster Farms has confirmed the discussions of a possible sale, referring to the report as a rumor. The cable business network based its report on unnamed sources, who put the price at roughly $2 billion. The two sides disagree on the exact amount, and the deal could fall through, CNBC said.
Foster Farms is one of the largest employers in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. Its hundreds of products include whole chickens and turkeys, fresh poultry parts, ground meat, deli slices, marinated products, frozen patties and corn dogs.
The company has annual revenue of $2.4 billion, according to Forbes.
The Modesto Bee contributed to this report.