Safer almond production results from plant redesign, says US firm
Paramount Farms said it has opened a new $24mn, 22,800 square-foot almond manufacturing plant in California, which eliminates the use of forklifts or bins and lowers lowering the likelihood of foreign matter contamination.
The new facility processes blanched, sliced, slivered and diced almonds as well as almond meal for use in a variety of consumer products.
Brian Ezell, managing director of the almond division, said the supplier spent five years visiting high-tech food processing facilities owned by the largest food manufacturers throughout the world to implement their techniques for cleaner, faster processing capabilities.
He said the company has now created a new industry standard for manufacturing almonds and the new capability “eliminates the need for storing product that is not fully processed, as orders are produced, packed, and moved to cold storage in one seamless flow.”
Ezell said that the plant’s improved design minimizes contamination as the concrete structure is built without exposed beams, seams or sub-walls for durability and contaminant control while a HEPA air filtration system helps remove potential foreign airborne particles.
“Almonds are taken through processing four times, compared to once in most plants, to remove foreign materials and product defects from shipments."
According to the company, the product is transferred through the plant on tube conveyers to minimize product damage and contamination, and all processing equipment is stainless-steel and fully automated for easy maintenance and clean-up.
“The investment in this new facility is representative of our confidence in the category as the demand for almonds as a premium ingredient continues to grow,” said Dominic Engels, vice president of global marketing at the almond manufacturer.
Paramount Farms is the world's largest vertically integrated supplier of pistachios and almonds with more than 70,000 acres of pistachio and almond orchards located in California’s San Joaquin Valley.
A recent statement from the Almond Board of California reveals than half of all Californian almonds are sold to manufacturers, and exports have been increasing to record levels, with total worldwide shipments up 18 per cent in 2007/08 compared to the previous year – or over 570,000 metric tonnes.
The nuts have also benefited from research into their health benefits – including their high levels of antioxidants, said to benefit heart health – and increased marketing focus on their nutritional value.