Blue Diamond plans expansion, with new almond operation in Turlock

mglover@sacbee.comOctober 5, 2011 

Sacramento-based Blue Diamond Growers has embarked on a long-term growth plan that will expand its reach into Stanislaus County.

Blue Diamond's board has approved a deal to purchase 88 acres of open land in Turlock – at North Washington and Fulkerth roads – where it plans to build a new facility.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Blue Diamond officials said they aim to break ground on the Turlock facility next spring. Details were not released on its expected size or the likely number of jobs.

Blue Diamond said its 15-year growth strategy also includes upgrades of operations at its plants in Sacramento and Salida.

The local cooperative said the Turlock acreage will help "meet the company's increasing global market opportunities and crop supply. Insufficient land was available in Sacramento and Salida to add the required manufacturing capacity to either existing location."

"After an exhaustive site selection process, we chose Turlock because not only is it an ideal location for our long-term expansion plans, but the Turlock City Council demonstrated great leadership by dedicating the resources necessary to provide the required infrastructure," said Mark Jansen, Blue Diamond's president and CEO. "They also expedited entitlement processes necessary to meet or exceed our operations timeline."

Blue Diamond, which bills itself as the world's largest almond marketer and processor, said its long-term expansion will be done in phases to minimize initial construction costs.

The company also noted that new automated technologies will increase crop yields and reduce handling time.

Jansen said California's almond crop has doubled over the past decade, and global demand for almonds continues to grow. Worldwide consumption is more than 1.6 billion pounds.

California produces 80 percent of the world's almond supply.

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