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MINNEAPOLIS (7 July 2014) – The next-generation almond huller and sheller – and the food safety and product quality advantages it provides – was at the center of attention at an open house in June hosted by Minturn Hullers Co-op of Chowchilla, California.
The $24 million project took more than two years to design and build. It is the first of its kind in California’s $4 billion almond industry. It will allow Minturn to double its capacity and have a seasonal output of more than 150 million meat pounds. Beeler Industries of Salida took the huller/sheller project from concept to completion. It features innovative separation technology from Lewis M. Carter Manufacturing of Donalsonville, Ga., and industry-leading Process Air and filtration equipment from Donaldson Torit® of Minneapolis. The machinery footprint is about the size of a football field. A 61,000 square-foot structure houses the process equipment, bulk shipping and warehouse.
“It’s one of the largest hullers and shellers in the valley,” said Mike Beeler, owner and president of Beeler Industries.
For Minturn, the investment represents its strong belief that the state’s almond market will continue to thrive thanks to strong domestic consumption and the huge appetite for nuts among consumers in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
“This project, in and of itself, pretty much states what our view of the California almond industry is and what we think of that future. It is very bright,” said Jeff Hamilton, Minturn’s general manager. “Our existing grower members are continuing to expand their operations... This facility will allow us to take care of growers that have been committed to this cooperative for so many years.”
The increase in production volume was a key part of the decision to invest in the project, Hamilton said. The Madera County cooperative processed more than 80 million meat pounds of almonds in 2013, making it one of California’s top five huller/shellers.