LA-based citrus juicer to expand operations in Lindsay

A major citrus juicing operation announced plans for expansion in Lindsay possibly bringing up to 40 full-time jobs to town.

Aaron Avedian, Senior VP of Operations for Vita-Pakt, commented on the plans during the Aug. 13 Lindsay City Council meeting. Avedian said the consolidation will take place in several phases over the next five to 10 years. He said upon completion, the Lindsay expansion would bring 30-40 jobs to town, mostly full-time positions with a few seasonal jobs. Vita-Pakt plans on moving its Los Angeles operations to Lindsay and, sometime in the future, its Fresno operations there as well.

“We’ve been in town 22 years and we are happy to work with the City going forward,” Avedian said. “Our plan is to expand and bring more jobs to Lindsay.”

The project consists of three adjacent parcels located along Harvard Avenue between Lindmore Street and Valencia Street. The southern most parcel was formerly known as California Citrus Producers Inc. (CCPI) which produced citrus-based juice products. Vita-Pakt purchased the property and facility from the Elliott family in December. Vita-Pakt already owned a citrus ingredient business at the CCPI property in Lindsay where it processes various citrus ingredients from peel and pulp for flavoring. It currently employs 150 according to the Lindsay Chamber of Commerce. Vita-Pakt recently acquired the 4.34 acre vacant property to the north which at one time was an orange grove, but trees were noted dying in 2009 and the parcel cleared of all vegetation in 2010, according to aerial photos by Google Earth.

The expansion will be completed in three phases. Phase 1 will construct evaporator towers and conveyors to the southern portion. Phase 2 will construct a 7,200-square-foot dry storage facility. Phase 3, the largest of the three phases, includes 24,300-square feet of dry storage facilities, 30,400 square feet of freezer space, a 7,250 square foot, an 8,800 square foot dehydrator, a dry storage facility of 2,200 square feet, and a dry storage and milling facility of 9,450 square feet and additional paved parking lots.

“I think we need those jobs,” Councilmember Pam Kimball said before making the motion to approve four items in relation to the properties. The Council voted 4-0 to approve the following as Councilmember Steve Mecum was absent:

1. A General Plan Amendment to change the land use designation on the vacant parcel from Medium Density Residential to Light Industrial;

2. A zoning change on that same parcel from multi-family residential to light industrial;

3. A lot line adjustment to combine all three adjacent parcels into a single parcel;

4. Approval of site plan review and the phased site improvements.

Vita-Pakt offers a broad choices of citrus products manufactured by one company.

The line-up of products include single strength, Not From Concentrate juices,  all natural juice concentrates, beverage bases, purees, and numerous specialty citrus peel products.

The peel products range from dried and milled granules for the spice, tea, and brewing industries to pasteurized and frozen shredded peel for preserving and bakery applications. The sugared lemon and orange flavedos, signature of Vita-Pakt, have become mainstay ingredients in the baking industry. They also process kiwi.

The company is said to be the dominant supplier of citrus peel for marmalade in North America.

Vita-Pakt has also been certified organic processor for more than 15 years.

Vita-Pakt is one of four major juicers in Tulare County along with Odwalla in Dinuba, Sunkist and Ventura Coastal with operations in Tipton and Visalia who run as one joint venture under the Ventura Coastal name.

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