As part of a 15-year capacity expansion strategy, Blue Diamond Growers' board of directors approved a plan to purchase 88 acres located at North Washington and Fulkerth Road in Turlock, Calif. The capacity expansion plan includes ongoing operations at the Sacramento and Salida-based plants with upgrades planned at both facilities.
The Turlock location will serve as the major expansion location required to 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. The three-phased project is expected to provide training and other new opportunities for current employees in Sacramento, Salida and, eventually, in Turlock.
"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," explained Blue Diamond President and CEO Mark Jansen in a prepared statement. "They also expedited entitlement processes necessary to meet or exceed our operations timeline. Turlock is exactly the pro-business partner we need to meet the difficult regulatory challenges in California. Turlock has shown it can provide the economic climate we seek so that we can grow together!"
The phased project is designed to minimize initial construction costs and to build Blue Diamond's growing consumer brand and ingredient business at a significant compounded return to the grower-owners of the cooperative over the next 15 years and beyond. This investment is focused on new automated technologies that will increase yields and reduce handling to provide additional cost savings at all locations. It will also provide additional opportunities to achieve the highest levels of a safe food environment for producing premium quality almonds.
"The unprecedented growth in our Blue Diamond consumer brand and ingredient business requires us to expand our capacity beyond our Sacramento and Salida operations," said Jansen. "The California almond crop has doubled over the last decade. Global demand continues to climb: 2010 crop shipments exceeded previous shipments by 14 percent for a five-year annual growth rate of 13 percent. This plan will provide the capacity we need to grow as global markets expand and U.S. consumers demand more nutritional almond products."
"This is an exciting moment for the City of Turlock," said Mayor John Lazar. "We are pleased that Blue Diamond has selected Turlock for expansion of its operations because it brings economic growth to our community. 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. The selection of our city for such a major corporate investment validates the foresight and planning of the Turlock City Council by preparing Turlock for economic growth like this. We are pleased to welcome Blue Diamond to our community as our newest corporate citizen."
The Blue Diamond brand ranks at the top of competing categories in the food industry and is slated for additional growth. Blue Diamond's ingredients business increased 50 percent to date in 2010-11, while its snack almond business increased 19 percent; Nut*Thins cracker business is up 32 percent; and its Refrigerated Almond Breeze non-dairy milk is up 121 percent during the same period.
Blue Diamond Growers is the world's largest almond marketer and processor. It is responsible for developing the industry and opening world markets over 100 years ago when Spain and Italy were the major producers of almonds. While the U.S. market is the largest single market for almonds, over 70 percent of them are exported to 95 countries worldwide. Almonds are California's largest food export and they rank among the top ten food exports in America. California produces over 80 percent of the world's supply.