Fresno records show Hazel Technologies is prepping to location a research facility at 2720 N. Grove Industrial Dr. in Fresno. Photo via Loopnet
Written by Edward Smith
A food tech company fresh to the Central Valley is bringing a research center to Fresno, allowing the company to be closer to the crops its trying to preserve.
Chicago-based Hazel Technologies announced its new West Coast research center after raising $70 million in a recent investment round.
Chief Technological Officer Adam Preslar anticipates opening in December.
“Fresno has really been on the to-do list for a long time,” Preslar said. As they were discussing West Coast research center options, Fresno was top of the list, he said.
“We wanted to be there, close to the core of our customers,” Preslar said.
The main goal of the new facility is to provide customer and technical support for the clients of the Chicago-based company. They also wanted a spot where they can showcase what their product can do.
The company produces a small packet that reduces respiration rate and increases ethylene resistance in produce, which can triple the shelf life of fresh produce.
Produce could be affected by premature ripening, fungal growth and internal quality loss, Preslar said.
“As consumers, we think of fruits and vegetables as inanimate things, but it’s really a living, breathing thing,” Preslar said.
They already have a number of clients in the area, including Specialty Crop Co. out of Madera, according to a press release from Hazel.
The research facility will allow the company to continue its focus on crops such as avocados, grapes and cherries, among others. It has already started recruiting scientists, research and development personnel as well as commercial team members, the release stated.
Permits for tenant improvements for Hazel Tech filed with the City of Fresno showed an 8,250 square foot location at 2720 N. Grove Industrial Dr., near Fresno Yosemite International Airport.
The key to the technology used by Hazel comes in the controlled release of food-safe ingredients that are already used in the industry to slow spoilage, according to the company’s website. The packet the company developed is not much larger than a silica packet used in garments. The packet is dropped into boxes of produce. Different crops have different respiration rates and so the company has a variety of different packets tailored to individual crops.
According to the release, the technology is on track to treat 6.3 billion bounds of fresh produce this year, which they estimate will save 500 million pounds from going to waste. They work with 250 food producers across 12 countries.
The $70 million investment was lead by Pontifax AgTech, according to the Chicago Tribune. Pontifax is a Los Angeles-based venture capital company.
The investment will allow them to expand regionally and invest in a larger team to expand globally, Preslar said.
Hazel Technologies, INc. began in 2015 from students at Northwestern University. Most recent information from the company states they have over 25 employees. An interview with the Chicago Tribune indicates they hope to have nearly 60 employees by year’s end.
Preslar said they plan to hire between eight and 10 people for their Fresno location.
“I’m really excited to be getting in the last of those coolers and fire them up and get some fruits and vegetables in there,” Preslar said. “We have a lot to do in the winter.”