Horizon Nut Company bringing hundreds of jobs to Firebaugh

FRESNO, Calif.

The ambitious $20 million project is one the Horizon Nut Company said it needs to meet growing worldwide demand for pistachios.

On a 1,200 acre dirt plot near Firebaugh the Horizon Nut Company will build a new pistachio processing facility. Dirt will be turned within the next month.

Company president Ted Sheely said, "The first phase will be ready to accept pistachios for hauling, drying and processing for the 2015 crop."

The grower-owned Horizon Nut Company operates plants in Tulare and Lost Hills. The pistachio market has grown substantially over the last decade with demand rising in the US, China and Europe.

Despites water challenges more acreage continues to be planted. The new facility will be more convenient for many growers to move pistachios after they're shaken from the tree.

Sheely said, "I would have to say we don't have enough capacity for what's in the ground today."

Firebaugh and Mendota traditionally have some of the state's highest unemployment rates. Firebaugh city manager Kenneth McDonald said the new processing plant will help ease a difficult situation.

"Seasonal employment to combat the high unemployment we've been dealing with the drought causing people to cut back and plant less crops," explained McDonald. "It's just going to be a positive thing for this area."

Sheely added growers specifically selected the site to address the problem. He explained, "With Firebaugh and Mendota having 30 to 40% unemployment these communities are very anxious for us to build this."

Sheely said the new plant will add 170 full-time jobs and 400 seasonal jobs when it opens in August of 2015.

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