Blue Diamond Growers, the world’s largest almond processor and marketer, is expanding with the purchase of 88 acres in the Turlock Regional Industrial park on the city’s west side.
The expansion is part of the 101-year-old cooperative’s 15-year, three-phase capacity expansion strategy, Blue Diamond said in a release. Insufficient land was available at the company’s present sites in Sacramento and Salida.
“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,” Blue Diamond President and CEO, Mark Jansen said.
City Redevelopment Manager Heidi McNally-Dial said the selection is a big victory for the city.
“This is exactly what the previous and current councils had planned when they put millions of dollars in redevelopment money into infrastructure — creating jobs and creating interest in companies like that.”
Construction could begin within 90 days, with operations under way by early 2013, City Manager Roy Wasden says.
Blue Diamond is not yet disclosing how many jobs could be added, spokeswoman Susan Brauner said. She did say increased processing capacity was needed at the cooperative, the largest handler of the California almond crop, which is expected to hit a record 1.95 billion pounds this year.
“”The demand is iust fantastic, and the crops are going to get bigger,” Brauner said. “We need to expand our capacity to expand our marketing around the world.”
At the peak of production each year, Blue Diamond employs about 300 people at the Salida plant and 1,000 in Sacramento. Most employees 10 to 11 months a year; cold storage allows for the gradual processing of each crop. The Sacramento-based cooperative has more than 3,000 member-growers in the Central Valley and exports to 95 countries.
“This is an exciting moment for the city of Turlock,” Mayor John Lazar said in the release. “This is the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship between Blue Diamond and our city that will benefit our citizens and the region as a business community.”
We’ll have more on this breaking story later today.