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Almond processor plans large expansion

Almond processor plans large expansion

Treehouse Almonds to add 255,000 square feet, hire more employees at Earlimart facility

By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN

EARLIMART – One of Tulare County’s most popular almond producers is expanding its operation.

Treehouse Almonds is expanding its processing, packaging and storage facility in Earlimart. The company sells a full range of roasted and manufactured almonds, including blanched whole, sliced, and diced almonds; almond meal, almond butter and natural whole almonds. The almonds are hulled and shelled in its plant near Delano. This raw product is then trucked to the Earlimart site for processing.

The Earlimart facility, less than 4 miles east of Highway 99, has been located at 6914 Road 160 since 1969 and employs about 124 people working in two shifts. Approved by the Tulare County Planning Commission on Sept. 25, the proposed expansion will occur in eight phases and will involve the construction of 255,004 additional square feet of structures, including 223,609 square feet of buildings and 31,395 square feet of canopies. The project would only increase the plant’s employee by approximately 8-12 employees due to automation.

In a letter from the applicant, Sean Odom of Gerald Mele & Associates stated that the project will consist of the construction of various structures that will be utilized by the company to diversify the product packaging and value-added processes for the almonds that they currently produce, as well as provide them with additional storage space.

Phase 1 includes a 96,000-square foot building for processing and storage, a new truck scale and a new parking lot. Phase 2 will include the construction of a second 96,000-square foot building to be used as storage. Phase 3 will include a 7,040-square foot warehouse and a 3,518-square foot fumigation building and a canopy. Phase 4 will include the construction of a 4,000-square foot shop building to be used for repairing company equipment. Phase 5 will expand the warehouse by 14,873-square foot and a trucker rest house by 578 square feet. Phase 6 will include the construction of several solar panel canopies over the employee parking areas. Phase 7 will include the construction of a 1,600-square foot caretaker’s residence. Phase 8 will include additional employee parking with the construction of two solar panel canopies.

The processing facility produces about 94 million pounds of raw almond products per year, which will not be increased by the expansion. Almonds are stored on-site and sold wholesale. No goods will be sold on-site. Almond skins are sold for cattle feed. Water usage will remain at 15,600,000 gallons per year.

Tulare County comprises about 3.5% of California’s almond crop with the state representing about 80% of the world’s almond supply, according to the Almond Board of California. The largest almond producing counties are Fresno and Kern, which each make up a fifth of the state’s supply. Almonds are a $5 billion industry in California.

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