The Grower Direct Nut Company of Hughson, California has a commercial harvesting business and runs one of the largest walnut hullers and dehydrators in the state with a shelling and processing facility where walnuts are graded, sized, shelled and packaged.
Napasol said the line is a pathogen reduction process that applies dry saturated steam and preserves the raw qualities of walnuts.
The firm added the high throughput pasteurization line will contribute to growth of the processor by opening new markets for the naturally pasteurized walnuts and attract industrials looking for contract pasteurization services.
Growing the business and meeting quality requirements led to investments in infrastructure and sorting, sizing, and dicing equipment, and packing lines from Grower Direct Company.
The firm had an unsuccessful trial period with a California equipment manufacturer before deciding to invest in technology by Napasol, which has seven large units operating or starting up in 2016 in California and Oregon.
Lucio Salazar, operations manager at Grower Direct, said it carefully studied the technologies in the market.
“The efficiency and flexibility of their equipment will allow us to pasteurize all our products and offer some contract pasteurization services for other walnut processors and for treating other nuts.”
The industry has been pasteurizing nuts since the 2007 Almond Board Marketing Order including pistachios, hazelnuts and walnuts.
Although propylene oxide is commonly used for pasteurizing almonds, the market is moving away from chemical processes due to the consumer’s perception of nuts being natural and healthy.
Aaron Martella, president of Grower Direct, said: “Pasteurization is a natural for us as it will give us an advantage in a market which is increasingly focused on food safety, and with Napasol we have a validated process that will meet the highest FDA standards for pasteurization.”