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Turlock Blue Diamond facility named top plant of the year
Blue Diamond Turlock
Being recognized as the top Food Plant of the Year by Food Engineering Magazine, the Turlock Blue Diamond facility has made significant gains in its first year of operation while helping increase and expand the companys capacity and capabilities in almond manufacturing. - photo by Photo Contributed

After a successful first year since its grand opening, the Turlock Blue Diamond Facility has been named the 2014 “Plant of the Year” by Food Engineering Magazine — an honor recognizing the most innovative new food or beverage plants built in North America.

Joining the ranks of past winners such as Chobani, Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, Pepperidge Farm and Nabisco, the state-of-the-art Blue Diamond plant in Turlock is one of the top almond manufacturing facilities in the nation.

“The Turlock plan supports the significant growth in our global almond ingredients business with the most food-safe almond processing facility in existence,” said Mark Jansen, Blue Diamond President and CEO. “On behalf of our over 3,000 grower-owners and 1,300 employees, we are honored to accept this award from Food Engineering.”

Jansen also added that the fact that the team at Blue Diamond was able to move from ground-break to start up in 13 months was “extraordinary” and helped the company increase their capacity while enhancing their capabilities.

The fast-tracked process was greatly helped by the City of Turlock’s efforts to have shovel-ready grounds available in the Turlock Regional Industrial Park where other industrial users continually look to develop new facilities. In January, Hilmar Cheese Company announced their plans to build a new multi-million dollar milk processing plant in the industrial park where Turlock City Manager Roy Wasden hopes will become the epicenter of making Turlock the “Silicone Valley of food processing” industries.

With the Turlock plant, Jansen says that Blue Diamond has been able to increase their efforts in providing a significant payback to growers for their investment in the company. Through collaboration with Whiting-Turner contracting and architectural firm, the plant’s continuous flow design provides Blue Diamond with their most efficient and food-safe almond processing environment yet.

Within the facility, control panels are strategically positioned for instant feedback to make immediate adjustments to utilities, process equipment and packaging systems, all resulting in a lean 21st century processing model to better serve Blue Diamond’s global customers and market base.

“We are pleased to highlight a couple of very important industry firsts — a complete separation of raw materials from finished goods which greatly diminishes the potential of cross contamination and our ability to quickly switch products and packaging to enhance our manufacturing flexibility,” said General Manager of Plant Operations Bruce Lish.

Blue Diamond Growers is the 32nd recipient of the Plant of the Year Award, being recognized at Food Engineering’s annual Food Automation and Manufacturing Conference and Expo this week in Ft. Lauderdale, FL — the premier conference for food and beverage industry professionals. Additionally, the company’s achievement will be recognized as the cover story of Food Engineering’s April magazine issue.