Category: Food Processing

Valley fans crave cookies, company expands

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Massive chocolate chip and churro cookies are baking all afternoon long at Crave Cookie’s new kitchen.

“With the demand, we were able to keep hiring drivers, keep adding more zip codes. We moved to a bigger, more centralized kitchen in a better area for delivery zones, and we’re able to keep going.,” said co-owner Shandi Scrivner.

Crave gave Action News a sneak peek inside their recent expansion as they try to keep up with customer demand.

The company receives orders online and delivers them fresh to your door.

Just last month, they partnered with coffee shop Kuppa Joy to sell their sweet treats.

“Right now we’re delivering them everyday fresh at 3 pm. The cookies are hot fresh until they sell out,” Scrivner said. “They usually last an hour or two. We’re working with them to get more cookies more available and more often.”

Crave is one of the few companies in the Valley operating a food business without a storefront or food truck.

It’s a concept known as a ghost kitchen, which are mainly popular in larger cities.

“With minimum wage going up, cost of product, cost of restaurant , we’re able to keep the overhead low and keep our business flourishing,” Scrivner said.

Scrivner says she and her husband are trying to be smart about their growth and expansions.

In 2019, they started their delivery business from Clovis with a homemade cookie recipe.

“There’s really no secret, just really good cookies delivered hot and convenient,” Scrivner said.

It’s one that people have been craving more.

There are two permanent flavors and the owners say more seasonal flavors will be available around the holidays.

The owners of Crave Cookie have even more plans for the future. They’re looking Into adding a second kitchen space to serve more customers living in Fresno and beyond.

Fresno County is rated No. 1 in the nation in agricultural production

 

It’s begun. That shaking is the sight and sound of almond harvest in the Sacramento Valley. Almonds are one of the state’s biggest crops. This video is from Jim Morris at a Yolo County farm. 

The agricultural championship has returned to Fresno County.

For the first time since 2013, Fresno County leads the nation in agricultural production.

Producing nearly $7.9 billion worth of agriculture in 2018, Fresno County edged out Kern County ($7.47 billion) for the coveted crown.

“According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, ‘Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California.’ ” Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen said in a statement. “Fresno County lies in the heart of this production and proudly serves as the food capital of the nation.”

Tulare County rated third at $7.21 billion in agricultural production.

Farmers and ranchers in Fresno County produced a record value of $7.88 billion in crops and commodities last year, up from $7.02 billion in 2017.

Almond production led the charge, producing a value of $1.18 billion.

Grapes were Fresno County’s second most valuable commodity at $1.11 billion, followed by pistachios ($862 million), poultry ($596 million) and garlic ($435 million).

Melissa Cregan, the Fresno County agricultural commission, said the county’s strength stems from the diversity in crop production. The county had more than 300 different crops in 2018, of which 76 grossed at least $1 million.

“Although individual commodities may experience difficulties from year-to-year,” Cregan wrote in her letter to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, “Fresno County continues to supply the highest quality of food and fiber nationwide and abroad to more than 95 countries around the world.”

A Brave New World: Latest in agriculture at Expo in Tulare

TULARE — Traditionally the Farmer’s Almanac predicts rainy weather during early to middle February said Lt. Boatman from the Tulare Police Department, who was helping on the first day of the 2020 World Ag Expo on Tuesday, at the International Agri-Center in Tulare.

But it was a clear, bright, and beautifully sunny day, and at least 30,000 people or more were expected to attend the show. And over the three days, Tuesday, today and Thursday, Feb. 13, there could be anywhere from 90,000 to more than  100,000 people attending from all over the world.

When the gates opened and hundreds of people were lined up to enter, at about 9:30 the Star Spangled Banner was sung, and people respectfully sang with their hands over their hearts.

Boatman said the Porterville Police Department, and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department were also helping the Tulare Police Department, as well as the Explorers from all over Tulare County.

On the trams that run throughout the Ag Expo, people were getting rides to wherever they needed to go, and all of the Expo volunteers were incredibly helpful and accommodating.

There are more than 266 acres of fascinating new agricultural equipment, such as huge feed mixers, farm trucks, with huge pavilions full of exhibitors throughout the show.

Looking at giant mixers for cattle feed, they look like huge blenders that mix alfalfa, grain, corn silage, minerals and vitamins, or whatever the nutritional needs to keep cows healthy, explained a rancher.

Hopping on one of the trams, Bill Horst, who’s been to all of the ag shows since they started in 1968, or 51 years ago, said there’s lots to see, lots to do, and the food was great. He recommended the Peach Cobbler.

There was a large pavilion where hemp products were being displayed, and an informational talk was being given, explaining oilseed, fiber, and extract type comes from hemp, and hemp fiber has been made to make clothing for years.

For medical use there’s “cannabis” which is used by adults.

A vendor for special bags to keep hemp fresh said there’s a big wave of growers who are getting back into growing hemp because of the huge variety of uses, besides CBD oil, which can be used medicinally.

Besides exhibits of merchandise, and vendors at the show there are also all kinds of seminars at the expo such as a discussion about “Rural Broadband and it’s importance to Agriculture,” to presentations about international trade, and modern professionally installed irrigation, and much more.

Southern California Edison had an exhibit where they had an electric heavy duty farm truck, an electric forklift, and an electric Nissan car. Brian Thoburn said Edison’s theme was to showcase its vision to put a million medium to heavy duty electric vehicles on the road in California, to help the state meet its energy goals for clean energy. He said another important thing was Edison’s efforts to represent its $356 million investment to help their customers to make greater use of electric transportation, including agricultural, business, and residential customers.

Thoburn also said there was a safety demonstration, and Edison Electric Safety Board would give a presentation and explain safety issues of electricity outside the house, around electrical poles.

Later, sitting down having lunch, Ismael Aguirre, from Jordan Central Equipment, in Blythe, Calif., which is near Arizona, said he was at the show to see all the new tractors and farm equipment. “There are people here from everywhere, and it’s wonderful to see all the new equipment that comes out, and meet the people who build them. I love the technical side of the equipment.

Walking down one of the streets, Amanda Yan, from Hergesheimer’s Donuts in Porterville said the Porterville Exchange Club and students had a booth.

Thirteen students from Monache Hospitality Pathways helped out, in two shifts, with the Porterville Exchange Club Concession Stand selling hamburgers, fries, drinks, and specialty deep fried oreos, and more during the day.

Aira Baez, Carla Montejano, Michelle Garcia, Annie Otero, Madison Morris, and Kristina Williamson all said they learned how to prepare food efficiently, quickly, and under pressure, but they had fun and the food was “yummy.”

Johnny Orduno, Yolanda Bocanegra, Betty Luna, and Pete Lara, and others were all helping to run the stand, and Bocanegra, said it was her third time at the expo, and she’s a member of the Exchange Club. ”I love doing this and being a part of the group. They are wonderful people who serve the community of Porterville. And I love working with the students from all our Porterville schools.”

“The reason the Exchange Club does the food concession stand,” said Luna, Club President, “is to fundraise for child abuse prevention, support our veterans, and give scholarships to Harmony Magnet Academy and Strathmore High School.

Luna said to the students as they left, “You’ve done a fabulous job.”

THE 53RD WORLD AG EXPO® COMES TO A CLOSE

Tulare, CA • February 17, 2020 – Sunny skies, large crowds and optimistic attendees defined the 53rd edition of World Ag Expo®. The world’s largest annual outdoor agricultural exposition came to a close on Thursday, February 13 and boasted 1,442 exhibitors on 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space. The three-day show hosted 106,357 attendees representing 46 states, the District of Columbia and 56 countries.

Exhibitors reported high traffic, quality leads and a well-organized event. First year exhibitor Agland Management Consulting, Inc. was in the Hemp Education & Marketing Pavilion and their team was pleased with their first trip to World Ag Expo®.

“It was great. We’re excited hemp was part of the show. We got multiple good leads and will be working with new counties on regulations,” shared Josiah Thomas of Agland. “The second day was the best and the show was better than we could have imagined.”

Attendees came from all over the world to network and learn about the newest ag equipment, services and technology. More than 130 educational seminars, demonstrations and workshops were held over three days and covered a variety of topics ranging from irrigation to hemp, livestock to international trade.

“What a fantastic show!” said Jerry Sinift CEO of the International Agri-Center®. “There were 124 international business matchmaking sessions, hemp was included as a new option for farmers, new products were launched – there are just so many good things to say. Our exhibitors step up their game every year and it creates an even better business platform for our attendees.”

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall kicked off opening day with a well-received speech and took a tour of his first World Ag Expo® that focused on technology, the international flavor of the show, hemp and dairy.

Other popular attractions at the 2020 World Ag Expo® included the Ride & Drive areas, Wine and Cheese, and the Demonstration Pavilion.

The 2021 World Ag Expo® will be held February 9-11. Space renewals are now being accepted from 2020 exhibitors. Potential exhibitors can begin requesting space on March 1, 2020 at www.worldagexpo.org.

https://www.worldagexpo.com/the-53rd-world-ag-expo-comes-to-a-close

JAPANESE FIRM EXPLORES FRESNO AREA FOR US HEADQUARTERS

Clay Gilpin

Published On February 3, 2020 – 11:41 AM
Written By Frank Lopez

It’s not news to people in the Central Valley that we have one of the richest agricultural regions in the country and the world.

The fertile soils of the San Joaquin Valley have been garnering attention from businesses in other countries — most recently, a well-established company from Japan.

Manda Fermentation Co., Ltd., founded in 1987, is a health food manufacturer in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, whose flagship product, “Manda Koso,” along with other fermented foods, has been spurring interest in the United States.

“We have seen an increase in fermentation interest,” said Tomoyuki Iwanami, chief creative officer for Manda Fermentation USA, the American branch of the company that is in its early stages. “One of the major turning points recently is the Kombucha (a fermented tea) craze. Fermented tea leaves are selling in San Francisco, natto fermented soybeans are gaining traction. Overall fermentation, the word itself, is spreading and there’s more awareness and consciousness towards it.”

“Manda Koso” is made of 53 botanical raw materials that are then fermented and matured for more than three years and three months. The process is free of preservatives and no water and heat is applied.

Fruits, grains, edible algae, and vegetables that the company uses from farms they either contract with or own are utilized so that no parts are wasted and consumers can get the full range of nutrients, such as the skin and leaves.

Along with selling “Manda Koso” and other health foods, Manda Fermentation also sells “Manda Amino Alpha” a fertilizer that uses “Manda Koso” for plants, and “Fermic,” a pet supplement that also uses the fermented product. It is also used for food for livestock.

Through a series of introductions with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., the heads at Manda were made aware of the San Joaquin Valley being one of the biggest agricultural centers of the world, and it made sense for them to start their U.S. operations in the area.

Last year, Manda Fermentation got connected to the Fresno State Department of Viticulture and Enology to conduct research on a fermented plant concentrate that could enhance grapevine growth.

The company will be using resources from Fresno State and other colleges in the California, such as UC Davis, for more research on the product and how it could be used in our area.

Clay Gilpin, market development manager for Manda Fermentation USA, who worked as the business support manager for the Fresno County EDC from 2015 until the end of 2019, is working for Manda facilitating connections in the states, as well as doing marketing and sales.

“Fresno State is one of the most practical farming universities, “Gilpin said. “Having that resource in the backyard is important. We are working with them now on projects — one is a study on the effects of ‘Manda Harvest’ on wine grapes. We are going to work with the business school on doing some market research. We feel like we are poised for a good launch.”

Manda Fermentation USA is still going through research and development before they decide on opening up a facility in the area, but it is something that they are keen to continue pursuing. Along with a facility, the company is also planning to survey properties that might be suitable for their operations, and also to build relationships with local farmers they could one day work with.

Manda Fermenation USA will have a booth at the World Ag Expo in Tulare Feb. 11-13 and at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim in March to get the word out on their product, and hopefully establish relationships with other companies in the U.S.

“The short term goals right now are getting to the World Ag Expo, then the Natural Products Expo, then hopefully start selling ‘Manda Koso’ in the U.S.,” said Yasuhito Nakajima, MBA, CEO and president of Manda Fermentation Co. Ltd. “We want the name to be out there, that’s for the short term.”

CEO at Foster Farms in Livingston talks about its future. New wing flavors are in it

Dan Huber looks to the future as CEO at Foster Farms. He aims for sustainable practices in the decades ahead at the Livingston-based poultry company. And he hopes the new line of chicken wings will please Super Bowl viewers early next month.

Huber took over in February 2019 at Foster Farms, the top-selling poultry brand in the West. About 12,000 employees process turkey in Turlock and chicken in Livingston, Fresno, Porterville and four plants in the Northwest and South.

Huber, 55, talked about consumer trends, food safety, sustainability and other topics in a mid-December interview in Livingston. He has worked since 1996 for the company, founded near Waterford by Max and Verda Foster in 1939.

“Our commitment to the Valley has been as strong as ever,” Huber said. “The 80-year celebration of this company has been exciting for all of us.”

Foster Farms sells chicken and turkey in hundreds of forms. Some of it is fresh whole birds or parts, with nothing added. Shoppers also can find marinated meat, frozen and breaded items, deli slices, corn dogs and much more.

FREE-RANGE LAUNCH

Huber’s first few months featured the launch of a line of free-range chicken, from birds that have access to the outdoors. Conventional chickens and turkeys live entirely indoors but still have room to move about.

Free-range came four years after Foster Farms entered the organic and antibiotic-free niches.

The food industry this year has seen a boom in meatless burgers and other plant-based versions of carnivore fare. Huber said Foster Farms will not go that far, but will still respond to the trend. Its Farm & Garden chicken patties will contain vegetables and whole grains along with meat.

“It’s not really replacing poultry per se,” Huber said. “It’s adding to the consumer’s basket, if you will.”

The new chicken wing line is called Take Out Crispy Wings, the name suggesting that they’re as tasty as those from places such as Buffalo Wild Wings. Fosters Farms sells them in four flavors: Classic Buffalo, Sweet Chipotle BBQ, Sweet Thai Chili and Korean BBQ.

FOOD SAFETY

The CEO also oversees food-safety measures that were tightened after a salmonella outbreak in 2013. It was traced to the Livingston plant and two chicken plants in Fresno.

Huber said Foster Farms keeps the products safe with intensive sanitation and testing every step of the way.

“We do 400,000-some tests a year, tracking through the farm and through into the plants, maintaining our tight food-safety requirements,” he said.

Salmonella occurs naturally in chickens. Huber reminded consumers that it is rendered harmless by cooking to at least 165 degrees and washing up after handling the raw product.

SUSTAINABLE POULTRY

Foster Farms does not have any expansion plans that will boost its workforce substantially, Huber said. He did note upcoming improvements in Turlock that will streamline the deboning of turkey. And the company is upgrading the part of the Livingston site that supplies restaurants and other food-service clients.

Huber noted Foster Farms’ part in reducing the emissions that contribute to climate change. This will include more efficient burning of natural gas in plant boilers. Refrigerated trucks will be powered by electricity rather than diesel while sitting in the plant yards.

Not in the works for now are electric trucks on the road, something just launched at Frito-Lay in Modesto.

Most of Foster Farms’ poultry feed is corn and soy shipped from the Midwest by rail, which has less impact than trucks.

Huber took over from Laura Flanagan, who had been CEO since 2016. He has held several other posts there, most recently chief operating officer. He also had sales and management positions with Oscar Meyer and Kraft Foods. He has a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.

https://www.modbee.com/news/business/agriculture/article238340623.html?

In Lathrop, it’s time for solar sausages

Central Valley Busines Times

December 11, 2019

  • Hormel Foods flips the switch for solar power at its Swiss American Sausage Company facility
  • “This project supports our environmental sustainability goals”

Pizza toppings are made out of many ingredients but now, in Lathrop, they’re being made with solar power. The Hormel Foods Swiss American Sausage Company plant in Lathrop is now making a variety of pepperoni and salami for foodservice pizza toppings with power from 2,000 solar panels installed on both the plant roof and on the ground. The project is projected to generate roughly 1.2 million kilowatt hours per year – enough to supply more than 15 percent of the plant’s annual electricity consumption.

IGS Solar partnered with Holt Renewables LLC to install the solar array, which is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 288 metric tons per year,  equivalent to removing 61 cars from the road annually or avoiding burning over 314,000 pounds of coal.

“We are pleased to announce the completion of this project,” says Tom Raymond, director of environmental sustainability at Hormel Foods. “This project supports our environmental sustainability goals and is another example of our commitment and support of renewable energy. ”IGS Solar will own, operate and maintain the array. The company is assisting Hormel Foods to integrate solar generation into its energy portfolio while helping the company better control the long-term energy costs for its buildings.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/04bea1e5-526d-41c8-8305-eff7a6f5ded0.pdf

FRESNO COUNTY ECONOMIC FORECAST: INTERNATIONAL INTEREST COMES ROLLING IN

Construction activity in Fresno keeps coming, including this three-story office building under construction near Palm and Herndon avenues. Photo by Edward Smith.

Published On December 4, 2019 – 1:33 PM
Written By 

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of four economic forecasts The Business Journal does every year for each of the four counties in our coverage area.

This seems to be a prime time for the world to kick the tires on Fresno County.

Interest from companies from far-flung countries including China and Japan has kept economic development officials busy, and even corporate America is taking a closer look at locating in Fresno County on the heels of Amazon and Ulta’s investment in e-commerce distribution centers.

At the same time, Fresno County’s agricultural sector continues to reassert itself as a force to be reckoned with. In fact, based off 2018 crop statistics, Fresno County once again became the top agricultural county in California and the U.S. — a position it hasn’t held since 2013.

Economic development and job creation are job one for Fresno County Economic Development Corp. Will Oliver, director of business services for the Fresno County EDC, noted that 2019 “was filled with much activity, interest and momentum.”

Fresno County welcomed new out-of-state e-commerce operations who either located facilities here or contracted with local third-party logistics partners, Oliver said.

Oliver noted considerable interest in the small cities of Fresno County. One example is Initiative Foods, which is one of the nation’s largest baby food manufacturers, and a major international exporter. It recently completed a 30,000 square foot addition at its Sanger manufacturing plant. Another city, Reedley, is using available resources to lure an advanced food manufacturer.

The region’s designation as a federal Opportunity Zone has done much to jumpstart some of that interest, Oliver noted. The geographical designation provides incentives in the form of reduced capital gains taxes on investments for capital projects.

Fresno County is preparing to kick Opportunity Zone marketing of the region into high gear.

“Much groundwork has been laid to support Opportunity Zone investments by preparing projects and developing a digital prospectus to market the region’s assets, which will be live in 2020,” Oliver said.

Kingsburg recently made big news with T-Mobile’s announcement that it planned to locate a call center there that would create 1,000 jobs, which would be a major jolt to the local economy. That project is contingent on the telecommunication company’s successful merger with Sprint.

Fresno had a bit of a coming-out party earlier this month as host of the California Economic Summit, which included announcements of millions of dollars in investment into the Central Valley. It provided some much-needed momentum heading into the New Year, Oliver noted.

“2020 will certainly be focused on recruiting and expanding high-growth, traded sector companies and industries, such as in health care, agricultural technology and manufacturing,” Oliver said.

On the international front, while much of the economic development work is understandably behind the scenes and not for public consumption, word has trickled down that a Japanese company called Manda Fermentation Co. is on the verge of locating operations in Fresno County. Other Asian countries are looking at the county, undoubtedly drawn to it as a center for international agriculture.

On the agricultural front, Jan. 31, 2020, is a pivotal deadline as the state’s water managers — large and small — must provide plans for how they will manage groundwater usage under the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Ryan Jacobsen, CEO/executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, said the sustainability plans will take 20 years to implement, with progress reports required every five years. But just getting to this stage has taken a lot of time, not to mention paperwork, as each plan is “hundreds, if not thousands of pages long,” he said.

Jacobsen said a number of factors — ongoing trade negotiations with China, new federal scientific guidelines on the pumping of water from the delta and engaged leadership on the local, state and federal level — give him reason for optimism.

Trade friction with China has been especially worrisome.

“The trade issue is front and center,” he said. “I’m optimistic that we can come to an agreement with China. I’ve been an eternal optimist.”

https://thebusinessjournal.com/fresno-county-economic-forecast-international-interest-comes-rolling-in/

MILK PROCESSOR BUYS VISALIA PLANT

Milk Specialties Global, a maker of milk-based nutritional ingredients, has purchased the Visalia milk-processing plant it has leased since 2012. Photo via MSG

Published On November 22, 2019 – 2:15 PM
Written By 

Milk Specialties Global, a maker of milk-based nutritional ingredients, has purchased the Visalia milk-processing plant it has leased since 2012.

“The acquisition of the facility demonstrates the company’s commitment to continue to operate the facility that employees 74 people and processes over two million pounds of raw milk per day,” states a press release issued by the Minnesota-based company.

MSG officials didn’t disclose the price paid for the 80,000-square-foot plant.

Milk brought to the Visalia plant is processed into liquid calf milk replacer and proteins most commonly used in sports nutrition drinks.

Liquid calf milk replacer is commonly used by dairies and calf ranches to feed pre-weaned calves.

The press release goes on to say that MSG has made significant investments to expand its Visalia production capacity, operational efficiencies and improve its sustainability. “By acquiring the facility, the company is securing this critical asset to support the long-term future growth of their business.

“After acquiring the facility, we are committed to making further investments in the operation to keep up with our customers’ growing demand while continuing to maintain our quality reputation,” Troy Peifer, MSG’s chief financial officer, said in the release.

The factory is located at 715 N. Divisadero St.

“The Visalia facility is critical to our milk protein business and continued success in manufacturing ingredients that are used in nutritional products for consumers and animals around the world,” Peifer added.

FOSTER FARMS ACQUIRES 19 NEW RANCHES; ORGANIC, FREE-RANGE EXPANSION PLANNED

Image via Foster Farms

Published On October 22, 2019 – 2:39 PM
Written By 

It’s a done deal after nearly a year of wrangling over the assets of Zacky Farms.

Livingston-based Foster Farms has completed the acquisition of 19 poultry ranches in the Central Valley, purchased as part of Zacky Farms’ bankruptcy settlement proceedings, says the company in a statement released this month.

The new ranches join hundreds of Foster Farms-owned facilities in California and more than 39 family-owned farms in Oregon and Washington. The new Central Valley ranches will allow Foster Farms to meet growing demand for the company’s California-grown, antibiotic-free, Certified Organic and free-range fresh chicken and turkey products.

The Central California ranch acquisitions come amid Foster Farms’ recent expansion in Merced County and the development of a new organic feed mill. Foster Farms remains family-owned and celebrates its 80th anniversary this year.

“From the start, Foster Farms has steadily grown through strategic purchases of highly desired land, poultry ranches and facilities in the West Coast and beyond,” said Ira Brill, Foster Farms’ vice president of communications. “Our continued growth in California helps to increase the availability of our premium antibiotic-free, Certified Organic and free-range chicken and turkey products for our valued retail customers and ultimately, to West Coast families who prefer Foster Farms for their chicken and turkey meals.”

https://thebusinessjournal.com/foster-farms-acquires-19-new-ranches-organic-free-range-expansion-planned/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=79167a39c9-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_10_22_08_15&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-79167a39c9-78934409&mc_cid=79167a39c9&mc_eid=a126ded657