US Cold Storage in Tulare plans $76 mil expansion after food package deal

United States Cold Storage Inc. expects to complete an 8.56- million-cubic-foot refrigerated addition at its Tulare North warehouse in Tulare come February 2025.

This $75.7 million expansion will include some of the industry’s latest storage and retrieval automation and bring the operation’s total space to more than 24.7 million cubic feet, the largest single footprint in the company’s network.

“I am thrilled for our fifth strategic expansion in Tulare,” said Rod Noll, USCS senior vice president for the Western Region. “This expansion reflects the continued growth of some of our major customers who are broadening their manufacturing capabilities. Specifically, we have a consumer-packaged goods customer relocating its business to northern California and to this facility.

“Meanwhile, we also look forward to contributing to the local Tulare business community and creating additional job opportunities.”

Tulare City Manager Marc Mondell added praise. “US Cold Storage has been a fantastic local employer and partner for over 20 years,” he said.  We are thrilled that they are making another large investment into their Tulare facility and look forward to many more years of successful collaboration.”

US Cold Storage plans to break ground for the attached expansion this month, which will ultimately include two new refrigerated rooms capable of storage down to -20F degrees. Officials expect by this November to complete a conventional storage space spanning 3.08 million cubic feet. A second, 5.48 million-cubic- foot room is scheduled to open in February 2025. That space will feature very narrow aisle storage serviced by a warehouse guidance system and semi-automated, turret-style storage and retrieval forklifts.

Upon completion, Tulare North will have approximately 98,500 available pallet positions. The addition also includes 23 more shipping and receiving doors for the operation’s dock, which will boast 73 doors after completion.

“Tulare North is one of our largest facilities in the West Region,” Noll added. “Being a multi-dimensional facility, it can handle a large range of storage temperature requirements. Offering the flexibility of food grade ambient, refrigerated, frozen, and ice cream storage temps allows us to customize our services for many types of customers and many stages of production.”

USCS first built its Tulare North operation in 2002 as a 3.4 million-cubic-foot dry warehouse. Tulare North also offers import and export services, rail handling and product re-pack services. It also is certified according to the BRCGS Food Safety Global Standard. USCS also services the area from a second Tulare operation, a 7.3 million-cubic-foot Tulare South facility, which also offers ambient and refrigerated storage. USCS’s cold storage and logistics network spans 40 sites from coast to coast, including nine California locations from Sacramento and south to Bakersfield.  The company is a subsidiary of the U.K.’s John Swire & Sons Ltd.

The Ugly Company: Saving ugly produce and creating a local business

Ben Moore’s mom affectionately nicknamed him “Big Ugly,” but that nickname came well before his business The Ugly Company.

The Ugly Company saves unsellable fruit from being tossed out and repurposes it into dried fruit snacks. Last year The Ugly Company saved and repurposed nearly 2.1 million pounds of food waste.

Moore and his Chief Brand Officer Matt Gorells joined the show with some samples of their ugly fruit and what their plans are for the future.

Tulare cheese plant expansion to make more feta

The world’s largest cheese maker is now hoping to capitalize on America’s fastest growing cheese product by expanding its plant in Tulare. Lactalis, the world’s largest cheese maker, filed plans with the city earlier this month to expand the cheese plant on Highway 99 it acquired in a merger with Kraft in 2021. The company wants to add a new 38,300 square foot building that will produce and package feta cheese. Construction is expected to start soon and be ready for use by December. It will operate on a 24/7 schedule and hire some 22 new employees, according to Lactalis.

The new facility could be the first large commercial production of feta cheese in California other than boutique and artisanal makers. Lactalis already markets its brands of feta cheese under various labels including its top seller, President.

Feta cheese is a pickled curd cheese with a salty and tangy taste due to its coupling with brine solution. Popular in Greek cooking the product has taken off in the US (like Greek yogurt) and now is expanding rapidly due to increased use in the fast food industry. In comparison with other cheeses, Feta is a low-fat variety often used on salads and Mediterranean dishes. In Europe and elsewhere, feta cheese is often a blend of cow milk with goat or sheep milk. Here it will be just cow’s milk.

A recent report says “The global feta cheese market size was valued at $10.5 billion in 2019, and is anticipated to reach $15.6 billion by 2028, with a [compound annual growth rate] of 5.7% during the forecast period. The market is expected to exhibit an incremental revenue opportunity of $5.0 billion from 2019 to 2028.”

Already the world’s leader in cheese production, Lactalis acquired a portfolio of iconic cheese brands from Kraft including Cracker Barrel, Breakstone’s, Knudsen, Hoffman’s and a perpetual license for the use of the Kraft brand in natural, grated and international cheeses. Lactalis also acquired the Cheez Whiz brand outside the United States, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and the Philippines and a license for the use of the Velveeta brand in natural and international cheeses. The acquisition included approximately 750 employees and three production facilities located in Tulare, Calif., Walton, N.Y. and Wausau, Wisc. The Kraft/Lactalis plant in Tulare currently employs around 250 people to make mozzarella and parmesan varieties and now feta.

In 2021 before the acquisition of Kraft, the U.S. Department of Justice required Lactalis to divest itself of Kraft’s Athenos, the top selling feta cheese brand in the U.S., and Polly-O brands. They did that. Now Athenos is owned by a Swiss-based company called The Emmi Group.

The Tulare plant and Lactalis’ other U.S. businesses are operating as Lactalis Heritage Dairy, a newly formed division of Lactalis based in Chicago. Groupe Lactalis, the world’s leading dairy group, is a French-family business founded in 1933 in Laval, France. Present in 51 countries, with 266 dairies and cheese dairies throughout the world, its 85,000 employees promote milk in all its forms: cheese, drinking milk, yogurts, butters and creams, dairy ingredients and nutrition. The company also offers products from emblematic international brands such as Président, Galbani and Parmalat.


Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual (CCM) and the Citrus Research Board (CRB) have received more than $1 million in new federal funding for critical research programs that support the U.S. and California citrus industries. Last week, Congress passed the 2023 Appropriations bill, which includes funding to help stop the deadly citrus plant disease Huanglonging (HLB) that has ravaged citrus production in Florida and other parts of the country.

The $1 million in new funding was approved to establish a citrus breeding program at the USDA Agriculture Research Service (ARS) field station in Parlier. “The commitment of the citrus industry to delivering quality research and innovation for all farm use has taken a big step forward with the support of congress funding the citrus breeding program in Parlier,” said Justin Brown, CRB Chairman.  The funding will be re-appropriated annually.

The program, which was championed by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Representatives Jim Costa (D-Fresno) and David Valadao (R-Hanford), will identify new citrus varieties best suited for changing climatic pressures such as drought, consumer taste preferences and resistant to pests and diseases such as HLB. Parlier’s new program is an expansion of the existing national USDA ARS citrus breeding program in Florida, which focuses on varieties with higher yields, increased disease resistance, improved color and a longer shelf life. Based off of these advancements in Florida, the CCM and the CRB saw the need for a similar program in California that would work with unique environmental conditions of the state’s production regions.

CRB, a grower-funded organization aiming to further the industry’s research priorities, has committed $500,000 toward establishing the new breeding program in Parlier to bring additional representation to California’s industry. “The addition of the breeding facility in Parlier will make the ARS Citrus Program a truly national project,” said CCM President and CEO Casey Creamer. “We look forward to watching the growth of this program and its collaboration with the UC breeding program to find solutions to the issues California citrus growers are faced with every day.”

These are the crops that California’s most agricultural counties produce

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The majority of California’s top 10 agricultural counties are all located in one region: the San Joaquin Valley.

The San Joaquin Valley counties that make up the list are Fresno, Kern, Kings, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tulare counties. (The three remaining counties that make up the valley, which didn’t make the list of top agricultural producers, are Inyo, Madera and Mono counties.) Monterey, Imperial and Ventura counties round out the top 10 agricultural list.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, in 2020, Fresno was ranked as the top agricultural county, moving up one spot from 2019 and swapping places with Kern County. Ventura County broke into the top 10 list from the number 11 spot. Half of the counties in the top 10 have almonds in their lists of leading commodities. Other crops that appear more than once include grapes, pistachios and lettuce. In order of their rank for 2020, these are the commodities that each county grows and that helped put them ahead of other spots in California.

  • Fresno: almonds, pistachios, poultry (unspecified) and grapes (table).
  • Kern: grapes (table), almonds, pistachios, tangerines, and mandarins
  • Tulare: milk, oranges (navel), cattle and calves and grapes (table)
  • Monterey: strawberries, lettuce (romaine), lettuce (head) and broccoli
  • Merced: milk, almonds, chickens (broilers) and sweet potatoes
  • Stanislaus: almonds, milk, chickens (unspecified), cattle and calves
  • San Joaquin: almonds, milk, grapes (wine) and walnuts
  • Kings: milk, pistachios, cattle and calves, and cotton (pima)
  • Imperial: cattle (heifers and steers), vegetables, alfalfa hay and lettuce (leaf)
  • Ventura: strawberries, lemons, avocados and raspberries

Origo Investments and Amond World LLC. To Break Ground on A Premium Refrigerated Cold Storage Facility

MADERA, CA | June 15, 2022 | Amond World LLC, in conjunction with Origo Investments has
announced their newest endeavor. Amond World, cold storage facilities will break ground on
June 28th at 10:30 am North of 2842 North Golden State Blvd Madera, CA. The groundbreaking
ceremony will feature company representatives, local government, and business leaders.
“Amond World is excited to build and soon deliver a critical component to farmers and
processors,” said Robert Sullivan, Managing Partner of Amond World LLC.

Span Construction & Engineering, Inc., the general contractor for the project, expects the first
building to be completed in spring of 2023. Once that facility building is operational Amond
World LLC and Origo Investments will begin construction of the Phase Two building.
The ground-up development project, is a 250,000 square feet state modern state-of-the-art
refrigerated cold storage facility in the Madera Airport Industrial Park, filling a critical need for
farmers and processors. The storage facility will increase profitability and extend shelf life by up
two years. Once completed, each facility will hold approximately 50 million pounds of bins
and/or finished product.

Robert Sullivan, and Steve Sagouspe, are the Managing Partners of Amond World LLC.. With a
track record of success, Robert and Steve add an immense wealth of knowledge to the project,
overseeing each aspect of their investments, that will allow them to push the project’s success

AEMTEK Opens Lab in Central Valley

AEMTEK, a highly esteemed food safety laboratory, and analytical services provider, is opening a new location in Modesto. This facility will bring food safety testing closer to current and future clients in the Central Valley.

Doors Open to AEMTEK’s Modesto Location

AEMTEK will open the doors of its new Central Valley location in Modesto on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022.The new laboratory is located off Kiernan Ave and 108, on Spyres Way. The facility features state-of-the-art equipment to provide companies with routine food safety testing, environmental monitoring testing and consultation, and research services including shelf life, challenge, and validation studies. Dr. Florence Wu, President of AEMTEK Inc., highlighted the importance of AEMTEK’s mission of providing accurate, fast, and reliable services to the region’s food companies. She said that “Food companies rely on AEMTEK’s testing results to make actionable decisions. Operating in Modesto will take us closer to our Central Valley clients, improve turnaround time, and facilitate more client-focused services.”

Serving the Central Valley

The new laboratory will serve the Central Valley food manufacturing community and provide new sample pick-up services to the Modesto, Stockton, Sacramento, and Merced regions. Keeping in line with AEMTEK’s mission, this new laboratory will employ the same focus on data accuracy, fast TATs, and industry-leading customer service for which AEMTEK has been recognized amongst its clients for nearly 20 years. An experienced team of Ph.D. scientists and microbiologists is excited to partner with food manufacturers of the Central Valley to help them achieve their food safety goals and keep the community safe. AEMTEK’s goal is to empower its clients across the U.S. to achieve top-notch food safety programs. The new Central Valley location will allow more companies in the Northern California Area and beyond to benefit from AEMTEK’s unparalleled services.

Private Lab Tours

To celebrate the grand opening, AEMTEK invites new and prospective clients to schedule a private tour of the new facility. To schedule a tour of the laboratory, complete this form. AEMTEK’s Central Valley laboratory will be open Monday – Friday 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, with weekend and holiday analysis available upon prior notice. The laboratory will begin accepting samples at this location after its grand opening.

Oat milk is booming. Modesto plant will add workers to help meet demand for nondairy.

SunOpta is expanding the oat milk portion of its Modesto plant to meet growing demand for this dairy alternative. The company is hiring 10 people to go with the 157 already at the plant, executive Michael Buick said in a phone interview Friday. SunOpta also turns out almond, soy and coconut milks at the Mariposa Road site, along with broths and stocks. It is headquartered in Minnesota and has other plants making plant-based milks, fruit snacks, frozen fruit, sunflower snacks, tea and more. TOP VIDEOS WATCH MORE × Video: Better yet, here’s how to compost yard, food waste for a better garden “Oat milk is what is growing the fastest now,” said Buick, senior vice president and general manager, plant-based foods and beverages. “Oat milk has more than doubled in the last 52 weeks and doesn’t show any sign of slowing down.” SunOpta has operated since 2009 in the Beard Industrial District. It took over a portion of a fruit cannery that was once part of the vast Tri-Valley Growers cooperative, which went bankrupt in 2000.

Tech firm trying to solve problem of produce spoilage coming to Fresno

A food tech company fresh to the Central Valley is bringing a research center to Fresno, allowing the company to be closer to the crops its trying to preserve. Chicago-based Hazel Technologies announced its new West Coast research center after raising $70 million in a recent investment round.

Chief Technological Officer Adam Preslar anticipates opening in December. “Fresno has really been on the to-do list for a long time,” Preslar said. As they were discussing West Coast research center options, Fresno was top of the list, he said. “We wanted to be there, close to the core of our customers,” Preslar said. The main goal of the new facility is to provide customer and technical support for the clients of the Chicago-based company. They also wanted a spot where they can showcase what their product can do.

The company produces a small packet that reduces respiration rate and increases ethylene resistance in produce, which can triple the shelf life of fresh produce.


There’s a lot of good wine out there, but laying claim to a perfect wine is no easy feat. One Central Valley winemaker can do just that with a resounding performance at the Sunset Magazine International Wine Competition.

Madera-based Ficklin Vineyards and winemaker Peter Ficklin took Best of Class and Double Gold awards for the Old Vine Tinta Port. It’s Aged 10 Years Tawny Port received Gold and Aged 15 Years Tawny Port won Silver. “A 100-point wine is a benchmark wine,” says Alexander Peartree, of the Robb Report—a luxury lifestyle magazine. “It represents the pinnacle of the category…the reviewer looks for the intensity of flavor, balance, structure, and longevity.”

A total of 2,900 entries from all over the world were judged in the annual competition. “We are honored to have our Old Vine Tinta Port recognized as a perfect wine by the judges in Sunset’s International Competition, and so proud to be the only wine this year to receive that designation among so many esteemed wines”, said President and Winemaker Peter Ficklin. “Ficklin Vineyards was founded with a commitment to quality and a desire to produce the highest quality Port in the United States.”

Madera’s CRU Winery also took three Gold awards for its 2020 Unoaked Chardonnay, Sarmento Vineyard Pinot Noir and Vineyard Montage, and Silver for its SLH Pinot Noir and Arroyo Seco Chardonnay. Sanger-based Gibson Wine Co. also made a strong showing in the competition, bringing in nearly a dozen medals including Double Gold for its Cream Sherry and Gold for its Port.

Madera’s Idle Hour Winery & Kitchen won Silver for its Late Harvest Viognier. O’Neill Vintners & Distillers in Parlier took a whopping 27 Gold and Silver awards for its entries. Some of the Gold winners include its Charles Woodson’s Intercept Red Blend, Game Box Pinot Grigio and Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc. Ricchiuti Family Farms in Clovis took Silver with its My Italian Cousin – Eugenio. Madera’s San Joaquin Wine Co. earned Silver for its Moody Press Cellars Rose. Toca Madera Winery’s Tempranillo Reserve earned Gold.