Agriculture

50 million pounds: That’s how many almonds Blue Diamond warehouse in Salida will store

Blue Diamond Growers officially announced the construction of a new almond warehouse and receiving station at its Salida manufacturing plant Wednesday morning.

The new warehouse broke ground in February, and is set to be completed in August 2020 with the ability to store 50 million additional pounds of almonds, increasing Blue Diamond’s storage and receiving capacity by 20%. The warehouse also will be able to receive almonds 25% faster, unloading trucks in just 16 minutes.

Once the almonds are processed at the Salida plant, they either are sent to the port of Oakland be shipped, to Sacramento to get seasoned or to Turlock to be sliced, diced or turned into almond milk.

Mark Jansen, the company’s CEO and president, said the new warehouse is necessary for the rapid growth in the almond industry.

“The almond industry has been in a tremendous period of growth, and specifically the California almond industry,” Jansen said. “California is the world’s best place to grow almonds, in part because of the climate, but also because our growers are the most efficient in the world.”

The warehouse also will be more environmentally conscious, featuring LED lights, stormwater drainage to allow groundwater retention and energy-efficient temperature controls, Brian Barczak, Blue Diamond’s senior vice president of global manufacturing operations, said at the ceremony.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Jansen said. “We want to have a product that tastes good, but it also needs to be good for me. You need to be good to your employees. You need to be good to the communities you live in and good for the environment.”

Though the cost of the upgrade was not released, Jansen said Blue Diamond has invested more than $200 million every five years into the growth of the company, and touted its success as one of the fastest-growing food companies with revenue over $1 billion.

Jansen said Blue Diamond operates as a cooperative with more than 3,000 family-owned farms supplying the bulk of their product — making up almost half of the estimated 6,800 almond farms in California, according to a 2015 report by the Almond Board of California.

“The co-op with the small family farms is really cool,” Jansen said. “It’s something that myself along with the other employees at Blue Diamond enjoy. Our broader purpose is that these small family farms, our median grower is 35 acres, we allow them to stay economically vital and been able to pass from one generation to the next.”

The National Agricultural Statistics Service forecasts 2.5 billion pounds of almonds to be produced out of California this year, 9.6% higher than last year’s production of 2.28 billion pounds.

“We feel good about the upcoming crop, which will be large, but necessary to keep up with global demand,” Jansen said. “Having a record crop this year is something we need, and something we can easily handle, especially with this new warehouse.”

Several community members, including Modesto city council members, members of the Salida Fire Department and representatives from the Stanislaus County planning department, attended Wednesday’s event. Blue Diamond also used the occasion to donate $10,000 to the Modesto Red Shield Salvation Army Community Center for its annual Kidz Day.

Modesto Councilwoman Jenny Kenoyer said the addition of the warehouse is beneficial to the community.

“You don’t know how pleased we are to see any development going on in the city of Modesto, it is so important to us that Blue Diamond is such an asset to us and we really appreciate what they do for our city,” she said.

Mackenzie Shuman is a summer news intern for The Modesto Bee. She originally hails from Colorado Springs, Colorado, but goes to school at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication where she is studying Journalism with a minor in Political Science.
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