Sacramento, California-based Blue Diamond Growers, a nonprofit grower-owned cooperative and the world’s leading processor and marketer of almonds, marked its 110-year anniversary May 6 with announcements about the completion of two key infrastructure expansions.
The company also was recently recognized by Boston Consulting Group and IRI as one of the Top 10 Fastest Growing Mid-Size CPGs for the fourth consecutive year.
As part of Blue Diamond’s long-range strategic vision, two major expansions at the co-op’s facilities in the heart of California’s Central Valley almond growing region have been completed or are nearing completion.
Groundbreaking ceremonies for both projects were held last year. The first expansion is a 52,000-s.f. addition to the existing 200,000-s.f. Turlock manufacturing plant that first opened in 2013 and sits on 88 acres. In 2014, Food Engineering Magazine recognized the Turlock facility as Plant of the Year for innovation, manufacturing excellence and sustainable operations.
Construction completed on the new building recently expands Blue Diamond’s value-added almond processing capabilities with an automated factory that features state-of-the art handling, processing and packaging equipment. This expansion also provides space for a future manufacturing line to support current business or new innovations.
The second expansion is the new Bulk 8 Warehouse at the Salida facility that originally opened as an almond receiving station in 1969. Today, the
675,000-s.f. facility sits on 44 acres and includes a retail Nut & Gift Shop. The new 58,000-s.f. 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,” said Mark Jansen, president and CEO for Blue Diamond Growers. “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.
“When we opened each of Blue Diamond’s three main facilities, we made a commitment to invest in our infrastructure, in our workforce and in the individual communities where our employees and almond growers live and work. Throughout the year, we support local nonprofits through our community grants, sponsorships, employee volunteerism and product donations. During yesterday’s global Giving Tuesday Now effort, I’m thrilled to report that 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,” Jansen said.
Blue Diamond Growers was founded by a handful of California almond growers on May 6, 1910. Originally known as the California Almond Growers Exchange, the grower-owned cooperative quickly grew into the world leader in growing, processing and marketing almonds and almond ingredients. In 1914, the Exchange opened a new receiving and packaging plant in Sacramento, California, that eventually became the largest almond processing plant in the world. Today, the Sacramento plant sits on 90 acres, covering 33 city blocks and serves at the cooperative’s headquarters.
In 1915, the co-op adopted the symbol of a blue diamond—the finest grade of diamond in the world—to signify its commitment to quality and in 1980, the cooperative’s name was officially changed to Blue Diamond Growers.
California produces 80 percent of the world’s almond supply and almonds are the state’s largest food export item. Blue Diamond Growers’ 3,000 members account for roughly half of the state’s almond producers.
Blue Diamond markets and sells a wide range of almond-based snacks, beverages and ingredients, including Blue Diamond Snack Almonds, Nut-Thins crackers, almond flour and the No. 1 almondmilk in the U.S., Almond Breeze.