Horizon Nut officials and guests break ground on the Firebaugh facility in late 2014. Photo via fresnoedc.com
Written by David Castellon
The Horizon Nut Company is moving forward with plans to expand its pistachio hulling facility southwest of Firebaugh that opened in 2015.
Those plans, approved last month by the Fresno Planning Commission, include construction of a 13.400-square-foot addition to the existing hulling and pre-cleaning facility, along with building a new 80,000 square-foot processing building, a 40,320-square-foot building for processing byproducts of the hulling process and a 7,200-square-foot office building.
Other projects on the construction plan include a microbial lab, a shelling facility and quality-control testing lab, 19 54-foot-tall storage silos, receiving pits for nut deliveries, loading docks and additional parking on Horizon’s 154.29-acre parcel of the southeast corner of North Jerrold and West Shaw avenues, according to a planning commission report.
“The plant expansion would also include roasting, flavoring and various customer-oriented packing options,” with the pistachios being bagged on site, it continues.
The first phase of the plant opened in August 2015 with plans to eventually grow it to the point that it could process annually 60 million pounds of pistachios for Tulare-based Horizon, according to news reports.
Company officials didn’t return repeated calls to discuss their plans, but documents from the Planning Commission disclose that once the expansion is completed, production would increase from the current 15 million pounds a year to 35 million pounds.
In addition, staffing would increase from eight year-round and 104 seasonal workers to an additional 88 year-round and 41 more seasonal workers.
Currently, bottled water is provided to the workers at the plant, but with the additional ones coming in, Horizon will have to install a treatment and storage system for drinking water.
In addition, because Jerrold Avenue near the plant’s entrance is in bad shape and traffic there is expected to increase heavily once the expansion is completed, Horizon will have to overlay a new layer of asphalt pavement on the street to Bullard Avenue as well as build a second access point for vehicles off Shaw Avenue.