Donation will help south San Joaquin Valley keep packing fresh fruit

The Modesto Bee
By John Holland

On Friday morning, in the dead of winter, I tasted fresh fruit as sweet as anything picked in summer.

It was a mandarin from the southern half of the San Joaquin Valley, which produces citrus at a time of year when most of our fruit-growing regions are out of season. Consumers around the nation and beyond can enjoy the flavors and health benefits of oranges, grapefruit and their kin.

The wintry bounty could keep flowing for years to come, thanks in part to a donation of fruit-processing equipment to California State University, Fresno by Bee Sweet Citrus, based in nearby Fowler.

Ag students will use the $600,000 packing line to learn how to clean, inspect, sort and pack up to 16 pieces of fruit per second from the 1,000-acre farm. Along with citrus, it will handle peaches and nectarines in winter and pomegranates in fall.

Above: Fresno State students empty oranges onto the Bee Sweet Fresh Fruit packing line for processing. Cresencio Rodriguez Delgado –

Go to full story at The Modesto Bee

AgPLUS, partners kick off 2017 Food Processing Expo at Workforce Summit

News Release

February 13, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Central Valley AgPLUS in partnership with California League of Food Processors and Zenith Insurance kicked off the 2017 Food Processing Expo with the Food Processing Workforce Summit on February 7. More than 70 participants attended the event, which addressed the many challenges for Central Valley food processors, including recruiting, training and retaining a strong workforce as well as how human resource managers can keep up with various regulation requirements. Trish Kelly, representing AgPLUS, moderated the morning session which featured an overview of the AgPlus Consortium and the IMCP designation.

Summit panel discussions were represented by industry, education and government, and featured keynote speakers Tim Rainey, executive director of California Workforce Board, and Matthew Roberts, dean of Field Operations for Workforce and Economic Development Division, California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

Results of a survey by California League of Food Processors were released at the event. The survey covered workforce issues for Central Valley food processors and how these can potentially affect initiatives dedicated to solving the skills gap in the industry. Fourteen companies indicated the positions they have the greatest need to fill include maintenance mechanics (93%), electricians (70%), boilers/process heater operators (55%), automation and controls/mechatronic specialists (44%) and machine operators (33%). Many of the positions listed also were named as ones anticipated as having a significant number of vacancies to fill within the next five years due to retirements and departures. Download survey results

AgPLUS was one of 260 exhibitors at the Food Processing Expo on February 8 and 9. Thousands from around the world attended the Food Processing Expo making it the largest food processing tradeshow in California. Featured exhibits included machinery,equipment, supplies and other services, as well as informative sessions and industry-networking opportunities.


Download News Release

Ag students spend day on possible future jobs

The Modesto Bee
By John Holland

One student sat in the driver’s seat of a nut harvester being assembled at Flory Industries in Salida. Another saw how Hilmar Cheese Co. ensures that its products are safe to eat. Still another learned how Duarte Nursery in Hughson produces young fruit and nut trees for farmers.

Thursday provided a chance for job shadowing through Doing What Matters, a state program based in part at Modesto Junior College. Some of the students were videotaped as part of the effort to spread the idea among high schools.

“Job shadowing is an excellent opportunity to get a taste of what a future career can look like,” said Andrew Skidmore of Atwater, who spent the day at Flory and is state president of the National FFA Organization.

Above: Andrew Skidmore, state president for Future Farmers of America, examines a nut harvesting machine at Flory Industries in Salida, Calif., on Thursday, Feb 2, 2017. He was one of several agriculture students taking part in a job-shadowing day in Salida and a few other locations. John Holland –

Go to full story at The Modesto Bee

Bee Sweet Citrus donates $600,00 citrus packing line to Fresno State

The Business Journal

February 8, 2017

Fowler’s Bee Sweet Citrus has donated $600,000 in state-of-the-art citrus packing
equipment to the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State.
Jim Marderosian, Bee Sweet Citrus founder and president, spoke at an event this morning to
present the fruit packing line.

The packing line can inspect, clean, wash, dry, sort, box, label and seal fruit harvested from the
1,000-acre campus farm. Located in the Bee Sweet Citrus Laboratory on campus in the Grosse
Industrial Technology Building, formerly room 154, the equipment will provide industrial technology,
food science and plant science students with hands-on instruction for mechanical systems and
industrial maintenance as they apply to food processing and safety.

Go to full story at The Business Journal