TURLOCK -- The new Blue Diamond Growers plant is mostly concrete today -- about 27.5 million pounds of it.
Next spring, if all goes well, untold millions of pounds of almonds will start going through the plant, bound for customers the world over.
The grower-owned cooperative provided a media tour Tuesday at the Fulkerth Road plant, which will handle a good chunk of the state's booming almond business.
The first phase, about 200,000 square feet, is scheduled to open in May. The other two phases will bring the total size to about 500,000 square feet within 15 years.
The plant will receive almonds that have undergone initial processing at the Blue Diamond plants in Salida and Sacramento.
"This first phase is about slicing almonds, dicing almonds, blanching almonds and providing almonds to the great food companies of the world," said Mark Jansen, president and chief executive officer.
He declined to say how much the plant will cost or the volume of nuts it will handle.
Blue Diamond, founded in 1910, has about 900 employees in Salida and 400 at its Sacramento headquarters. The ultimate work force in Turlock has not been determined.
The company is the biggest player in the California almond industry, which produces about 75 percent of the world's supply.
It reported record net sales of $1.01 billion for the year that ended Aug. 31. The grower-members will celebrate the milestone at today's annual meeting at Modesto Centre Plaza.
The Sacramento plant now handles all of the "value-added" processing, Jansen said. This includes cutting almonds into various shapes for home cooks and companies that make candy, cereal, baked goods and other products. It also involves the extensive snack line sold under the Blue Diamond label.
The Turlock plant will cut and blanch almonds in the first phase and move into roasting and flavor coating in the second.
The plant will help Blue Diamond keep up with demand that has soared as people come to see almonds as a healthy food, Jansen said.