Blue Diamond groundbreaking
 From left, Blue Diamond manager of plant operations Bruce Lish, ceo Mark Jansen, chairman of the board Clinton Shick, and Turlock plant manager Ulli Thiersch.


During an onsite groundbreaking ceremony, Blue Diamond Growers launched the first of a three-phased project to construct a new manufacturing plant in Turlock, Calif.

The cooperative, which is owned by more than half of California’s almond growers, initially announced it had purchased 88 acres of land at the end of last year as a means of keeping up with increasing demands for almond products.

The 88-acre property, located at N. Washington and Fulkerth Roads, is scheduled to gain about 500,000-sq.-ft. by the end of the 15-year-long project. The first phase, which will provide about 200,000-sq.-ft. of building space, is scheduled to be completed in May 2013.

“In our continuing efforts to deliver the benefits of almonds to the world, this project will allow us to expand our value-added product lines,” says Mark Jansen, president and ceo at Blue Diamond. “It will seal our promise to be the global almond ingredients and consumer retail market leader so that we can continue to create the healthiest almond products in the world.”

This year, California produced about 2 billion pounds of almonds. The company’s last major investment took place at its Salida Plant in 1968 when the state was manufacturing only 140 million pounds of almonds.

“Today we are celebrating the largest single investment in the 102 years of the almond industry’s existence,” said Jansen.

The project is also expected to bring in added benefits to the Turlock community, including jobs. While the number of projected job openings is unclear at this time, Jansen said the company will announce job openings in the fall of 2012.

 In addition, Blue Diamond is planning to complete a research and development complex at its headquarters in Sacramento later this year.

Ulli Thiersch.