Blue Diamond Completes Turlock Expansion

Less than 15 months after breaking ground on the project, Blue Diamond Growers recently announced the expansion of its Turlock manufacturing plant is complete. The 52,000 square foot addition to the existing 200,000 square foot facility in town is one of two major expansions for Blue Diamond, a nonprofit grower-owned cooperative and the world’s leading processor and marketer of almonds. The other, in Salida, will be completed in May. The new Turlock expansion increases Blue Diamond’s value-added almond processing capabilities with an automated factory that features state-of-the-art handling, processing and packaging equipment and also provides space for a future manufacturing line to support both current business or new innovations.

The completion of the expansion comes as Blue Diamond celebrates its 110th anniversary and just seven years after its Turlock facility opened. Since 2013, Turlock’s Blue Diamond facility has received a number of accolades, including Food Engineering Magazine’s title of the 2014 Plant of the Year, as well as being named to Boston Consulting Group’s list of the fastest-growing midsize companies in the nation. The company is no stranger to building facilities quickly — Blue Diamond was able to move from groundbreaking to startup for the original plant in just 13 months. At the expansion’s groundbreaking ceremony in January 2019, Blue Diamond President and CEO Mark Jansen said they hoped to get the additional space built quickly due to the company’s rapid growth. Just over a year later, that goal was accomplished.

The new facility will be used specifically to create an integrated almond beverage base line, where, for the first time, everything needed for the product will be manufactured in the same facility. The base for Blue Diamond’s beverage line, Almond Breeze, will be created at the Turlock expansion through a process of blanching, splitting, roasting and grinding the almonds into a buttery paste, which will then be shipped all over the world to be mixed with water and sold as almond milk. Blue Diamond’s Almond Breeze production has experienced double digit growth over the last 20 years. In 2018, the brand grew by 14 percent. The original Turlock Blue Diamond facility is already processing about 25 percent more almonds than the company originally thought possible for the plant’s capacity after the company recently added an almond flour line to the mix.

The expansion comes as phase two in a three-phase, 15-year project that began when Blue Diamond purchased 88 acres at the intersection of North Washington and Fulkerth Road in late 2011. Since then, companies like Hilmar Cheese and Valley Milk have made their way into the Turlock Regional Industrial Park, while already-established facilities like United States Cold Storage and Sunnyside Farms are also currently in expansion mode. The second expansion in Salida is the new Bulk 8 Warehouse at the Salida facility that originally opened as an almond receiving station in 1969. Today the 675,000 square foot facility sits on 44 acres and includes a retail nut and gift shop. The new 58,000 square foot bulk storage facility is on schedule to be completed by the end of May, providing an additional 50 million pounds of in-house bulk almond storage capacity in time to receive the 2020 almond harvest. The 65-foot-tall building includes advanced design with an automated gravity fed spiral conveyance system that improves grower delivery efficiency and reduces damage to the almonds. “It is particularly meaningful for Blue Diamond to be able to commemorate our Founders Day today by not only recognizing our humble beginnings 110 years ago, but also celebrating two key growth milestones that help secure our future,” Jansen said. “I couldn’t be more proud that, despite the unprecedented challenges businesses around the world have faced over the past two months, our incredible team has been able to sustain operations as an essential food supplier, while completing these critical expansion projects ahead of schedule to meet customer needs.”

To celebrate the expansions and give back during the coronavirus pandemic, Blue Diamond, along with partners Union Pacific and Sun-Maid Growers of California, committed to a donation match of $50,000 to help support three food banks in northern and central California that are struggling to meet significant demand from local families in need.

https://www.turlockjournal.com/news/local/blue-diamond-completes-turlock-expansion/

Supply Chain Breaks Put New Spotlight on Central Valley’s Potential

Supply chains being spread thin or broken entirely by the coronavirus pandemic have brought new scrutiny to inland California’s industrial market. Along with other inland hub markets like the Inland Empire and the Pennsylvania I-78/81 corridor, the Central Valley may benefit from a surge in business inventories and re-shoring spurred by companies’ reactions to the coronavirus, CBRE concluded in a recent report. Courtesy of CBRE Eastgate Business Park in Tracy, Calif. As more manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers opt to store materials and inventories closer to consumers, space for all those goods is in high demand.

Suppliers will likely gravitate toward inland markets as opposed to space-limited and expensive seaport-adjacent markets, according to CBRE, which also points to e-commerce’s continued growth as another likely boon for the sector. “It’s really securitization of the supply chain and avoiding supply chain disruption,” said CBRE Executive Vice President Thomas Davis, who leads the company’s Central Valley Industrial Practice group.  “It has performed very well, and we expect it to perform very well going forward,” Davis said of the Central Valley’s industrial CRE market. In its report, CBRE said the pandemic has highlighted how quickly issues can arise with just-in-time production networks, reversing a decades-long downward trend in inventory-to-sales ratios. Such a reversal could cause industrial demand to surge in inland hub markets, CBRE Research said, projecting a 5% increase in business inventories that require 400M to 500M more SF of warehouse space.

Last month, Colliers International Senior Vice President Gregory Healy, an expert in location strategy and supply chains, said he expects a push for supply chain resilience to result in demands for 750M SF to 1B SF of industrial space in the U.S. alone. Central Valley industrial CRE is likely moving forward from an already strong starting point. As in Southern California’s industrial markets, the region has continued to see deal flow despite the pandemic, Lee & Associates Senior Vice President and Central Valley industrial broker Jim Martin said.  Leasing and investment sales have stayed on track, according to Martin, who said he thinks there will probably be an increase in warehouse and distribution in the region as companies look to increase inventories. “The Central Valley will continue to see migration/expansion from the Bay Area given the availability of land, labor and transportation,” Martin said in an email. Martin, who just worked with Nearon Enterprises on acquiring the 155K SF Eastgate Business Park in Tracy, California, said deals like that one represent a telling commitment to the Central Valley. That industrial purchase was Nearon’s first in the Central Valley, according to Martin, though Nearon didn’t immediately respond to a request for confirmation.

https://www.bisnow.com/san-jose/news/industrial/californias-sprawling-central-valley-poised-for-industrial-boom-from-new-supply-chain-needs-104763

Fresno State engineering students help make protective gear for health workers

Engineering students, faculty and alumni from Fresno State’s Lyles College of Engineering have been working up to 10 hours a day in recent weeks to design and produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for Central Valley health care workers. They plan to donate about 1,000 face shields to Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno. Last week during Fresno State’s spring break, the team completed the final design and began production of the face shields — the first part of a three-phase, innovative project to support the community at a time when protective equipment is scarce for doctors, nurses and other health care providers.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/682ecac7-bbb8-4d8e-80e1-8808a64214e8.pdf

VALLEY VENTURES COMPANY RAISES $6M IN NEW FUNDING

Madera County named one of the fastest growing communities in the West

A recent study by the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic analysis showed Madera County saw the fastest growth in the West in a medium-sized community with a 6.6% increase for its gross domestic product, which is the value of goods and services produced within the county. The study highlighted growth areas in agriculture and forestry, especially in the mountains where trees have died.

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

https://www.recorderonline.com/news/a-brave-new-world-latest-in-agriculture-at-expo/article_4c7de574-4dc0-11ea-b9ba-a3d1742c88a5.html

THE 53RD WORLD AG EXPO® COMES TO A CLOSE

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®.

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

Business landscape looks bright for Shafter

The City of Shafter has been enjoying a reputation of being one of the fastest growing cities in business in recent years, attracting such companies as Target, Ross and several other big retailers. The most recent addition is Walmart, which is scheduled to open the most technologically advanced distribution center in the nation in Shafter in the fall of 2020. Bob Meadows, business development director for the city, says Shafter is a sought-after destination for businesses, large and small. “We have several irons in the fire. This year should see the city continue to build on this success and make 2020 a special one.” Financially, the city has been touted as one of the most financially sound cities in the state. Meadows said that since he joined the city last year, he has become aware of the great reputation the city has in Kern County, as well as in the state of California.

New warehouses, hotels, restaurants coming to Visalia’s Industrial Park

Rod Jurbina remembers a time, perhaps just 15 years ago, when there wasn’t much to see in parts of Visalia’s industrial park. At the time, he was working for a gas company. “We put in a four-inch plastic gas main in there and I was asking myself, ‘I wonder why they need this here because there’s really nothing out here for now,'” Jurbina said. “And now look what it’s developed into.” In a January economic update, city employees describe an industrial park that is growing substantially. The reason for the growth? The city says it’s multiple factors, including the cost and availability of land, Visalia’s central location in the state, and the expansion of the UPS’ ground hub at this massive facility at Riggin Avenue and Plaza Drive.The city expects UPS will add another 250 jobs but predicts it will also spur new development and more jobs.