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

published on June 23, 2017
Written by David Castellon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Model homes are scheduled to open in July.

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

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

 

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

BY STEFANI DIAS
The Bakersfield California

Jul 7, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Almond huller’s solar panels make efficient use of land

Central California 

MARCH 31, 2017
Modesto Bee
BY JOHN HOLLAND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three new brewers set their sights on Downtown Fresno

Central California

February 10, 2017
Written by Valerie Shelton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tioga-Sequoia — the trailblazer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An old favorite comes Full Circle

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

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

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

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

Almonds from Escalon fuel NASCAR driver

Central California 

Published 4/12/17
Modesto Bee
BY JOHN HOLLAND

A longtime almond processor has launched a snack label aimed in part at motorsports fans. And it is sponsoring a stock car racer who is among the rising stars.

Nut Up, an offshoot of the Roche family’s four-generation business, has 10 flavors of chopped almonds in 1.5-ounce bags available at many grocery stores. It is promoting them with the help of Dylan Lupton, a Sacramento-area product racing on the NASCAR Xfinity circuit this year.

He said by phone Thursday that the nuts are part of a healthy diet that helps him endure the rigors of his sport, including 130-degree-plus temperatures inside his fireproof suit.

“These NASCAR races are pretty grueling,” Lupton said. “You have to be very conscious of what you fuel your body with.”

The Nut Up logo on his suit and car will be the most prominent among his sponsors for at least some of this year’s races, he said. Nut Up also is working with motocross and other motorcycling events.

The new products come from Roche Brothers International Family Nut Co., on Jones Road east of Escalon. President Joey Roche, who long has supported motorsports, partnered on the venture with almond broker Brad Klump.

“In the racing community, there’s not a lot of healthy snacks, so the kids need it,” Roche said during a tour of the plant Wednesday.

Roche Brothers employs about 140 people year-round at the plant and in the orchards. Most of its 20 million or so pounds of annual volume is basic products for the world market. A small part goes to Nut Up, the company’s first retail brand.

The almonds come in garlic-parmesan, ranch, lemon, barbecue, cinnamon toast, salted caramel, Caribbean jerk and a few other choices.

Nut Up also has almond butter in plain, salted caramel and cinnamon toast versions, along with almond flour and meal for cooking.

The products are at Save Mart, Food Maxx, Cost Less, O’Brien’s and a few other grocers. In-Shape fitness centers around the state sell them. So do the Ace hardware stores in Escalon and Oakdale, and the Menard’s hardware chain in the Midwest.

The nuts can be bought online at www.nutupindustries.com.

The sweet ones can be an ice cream topping and the savory ones can go on salads, Operations Manager Haily Azevedo said on the tour. She also suggested rubbing Caribbean jerk almonds onto chicken.

Or, the snack bags can just be part of the meal plan for a family headed to the racetrack.

“We needed to get the younger kids to try almonds,” Roche said. “It’s cool to eat almonds.”

Bronco Wine expansion, with 30 new jobs, wins support

Central California

 May 5, 2017
Modesto Bee
By John Holland

Bronco Wine Co. got support Thursday night for a major expansion at its headquarters south of Ceres — and praise for a notable product.

The Stanislaus County Planning Commission voted 7-0 for a rezoning that will ease the way for new warehouse and office space. The Board of Supervisors will make the final decision on the plan, expected to create about 30 jobs at the Keyes Road site.

Bronco markets its wines under dozens of labels and also sells bulk wine to other producers. It is best known for Charles Shaw, which first sold for $1.99 at Trader Joe’s stores and came to be known as Two Buck Chuck. It’s now up to $2.99.

Commissioner Katherine Borges recalled that a 2005 version was named best chardonnay at the California State Fair. It competed against about 350 higher-priced bottles.

Borges suggested that Bronco add a tasting room, but company representative Dan Leonard said that is not in the plan.

“It’s a production facility supporting ag, supporting grapes,” said Leonard, a vice president and treasurer.

Bronco, founded in 1974, is one of the nation’s largest wine producers. The Keyes Road site does crushing, fermenting, aging and bottling of a large part of its volume. About 325 people work there year-round, and seasonal employees can bring the total to 550.

Leonard declined to say how much the expansion will cost. The first phase, taking up to five years, includes a 120,000-square-foot warehouse that is part of an eventual 613,000 square feet of new storage. This phase also involves two spurs from the Union Pacific Railroad line next to the site, which Leonard said would cut down on truck traffic.

Bronco plans to move into the later phases as wine sales grow. They include 81,000 square feet for offices and other space for training and other needs.

Dust Bowl Brewing Company Extends Distribution in California

Central California

Published  February 13, 2017

Dust Bowl Brewing Company recently signed with Premium Beverage Company, expanding the growing brewery’s distribution into California’s Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties.

Founded in 2005, Premium Beverage is based in Salinas, California and distributes domestic, craft and imported beers along with ciders and an extensive portfolio of non-alcoholic products. Premium Beverage services all major chains, independent grocers, restaurants, liquor stores and convenience stores. Dust Bowl Brewing Co. joins other leading craft brands including Rogue, Shiner and Trumer to name a few.

“Now that we are fully operational in our new brewery, we are poised to grow our distribution. Our ability to brew significantly more beer allows us to aggressively pursue new territories as we navigate the competitive craft beer industry,” shares founder, Brett Tate. “Premium Beverage Company shares our same commitment to superior customer service and is aligned with our growth strategy. The timing is ideal.”

“We’re excited to add Dust Bowl Brewing Company to our portfolio,” adds John Holt, President, Premium Beverage Co. “The Central Valley brewery has experienced impressive sales growth since its inception in 2009 and is committed to expanding their product offering even more in 2017. Their brand recognition is on the rise, they produce quality beer and they’re clearly invested in the future. Dust Bowl is an excellent fit with our craft beer model.”

Dust Bowl Brewing Co. produces a wide range of draft beer along with a portfolio of year-around and limited-release bottled products. The company opened its new brewery, located in Turlock, California, in June 2016 and plans to produce 15,000-20,000 barrels in the first year, compared to 5,000 barrels in 2015.

In addition to Premium Beverage Company, Dust Bowl Brewing Co. currently has six other distributors: Delta Sierra Beverage covers the California Central Valley, Mussetter Distributing handles the Sacramento region, Delta Pacific covers the Fresno region, Morris Distributing handles San Francisco and the North Bay, Bay Area Distributing services Contra Costa and Alameda counties and Barone Distribution covers the state of Nevada.

Current expansion plans include further south down the Central Coast, Southern California and into the Pacific Northwest.

Dust Bowl Brewing Company produced its first beer in May 2009. The Company forecasts 15,000-20,000 barrels annual production. Dust Bowl Brewing Company beers are available in 5 and 15.5 gallon kegs along with selected styles in 22oz. and 12oz. bottles. Distribution includes Central and Northern California, Nevada and Vermont. The craft brewery showcases a wide variety of its beers at its two Turlock, Calif. taproom locations, Brewery Taproom and Downtown Taproom. More information may be found at www.dustbowlbrewing.com.

Which comes first, the chicken, the egg or the egg-production facility?

Central California
It will be the largest egg-production facility Kern County has ever seen, housing more than 3 million chickens and at its peak, producing more than 36 million eggs per month. And all done 100 percent cage-free. Already under construction on Gun Club Road, northwest of Wasco, the facility developed by Central Valley Eggs LLC will be massive, totaling more than 700,000 square feet.

Organic meal kit service eyes Fresno for distribution center, 356 jobs

Central California

Published on 06/09/2017
Written by Gabriel Dillard and John Lindt 

Green Chef, an organic meal kit service, is eyeing Fresno for a distribution center that could hire up to 356 people. Image via Green ChefA Colorado-based organic food delivery service has its sights set on Fresno for a distribution center that could eventually employ 356 people with an average full-time salary of $30,000.

Green Chef Corp., a subscription meal kit service founded in 2014 that specializes in organically-sourced food, is up for a $2.5 million California Competes tax credit with plans to invest $17.2 million in a Fresno delivery hub, according to the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (Go-Biz).

Valley food producers land nearly $850,000 in USDA grants

Central Valley

Valley food producers land nearly $850,000 in USDA grants

Published on 10/28/2016 – 11:09 am

San Joaquin Valley food producers are on the receiving end of nearly $850,000 in grants meant to help small rural businesses develop new products.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a total of $45 million in Value-Added Producer Grants Thursday, going to 325 projects across the U.S.

Local recipients include:
Top o’ the Morn Farms, Tulare
$250,000 to expand farm fresh milk sold in recyclable glass bottles into new geographic markets in Southern California. Funds will be used for increased processing, distribution, promotion and sales support.

Barbara and Tony Martin, Dairy Goddess, Lemoore
$49,000 to provide working capital to expand sales of bottled, non-homogenized/vat pasteurized whole chocolate milk, fromage blanc cheese and curds. Funds will be used for marketing, website development, attendance at the San Francisco Fancy Food Show and signage.

San Joaquin Figs, Fresno
$49,999 to design, package and market organic dried figs and to purchase additional inventory for new markets.

Top Line Milk Co., Winton, Merced County
$245,000 to process whole milk into farm bottled low and slow pasteurized milk.

Blue Diamond, Sacramento
$250,000 to provide working capital to expand marketing and promotional support for the sale of flavored almonds in China and Japan.

“Value-Added Producer Grants are one of USDA’s most sought-after funding sources for veteran and beginning farmers, and rural-based businesses,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, in a statement. “These grants provide a much-needed source of financing to help producers develop new product lines and increase their income, and keep that income in their communities. Economic development initiatives like this one are working – the unemployment rate in rural America is at an eight-year low and incomes rose 3.4 percent last year. Small business entrepreneurship, which Value-Added Producer Grants support, is a major reason why rural America is a making a comeback.”

Read more HERE