OLAM expands its Valley presence
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- An international agriculture giant has expanded its Valley presence, establishing Fresno as its regional hub.
The new West Coast headquarters for Singapore based OLAM International is located near Freeway 41 and Friant Road, on River Park Circle. Local leaders hope OLAM's move to Fresno indicates an improved business climate.
OLAM literally adds spice to the Valley's business landscape. The company processes ingredients from locally grown tomatoes, garlic, onions and almonds.
OLAM is known as the brand behind the brands. Company President John Gibbons says you won't find their name on any food labels. "But you have a cup of coffee in the morning, a burrito for lunch, a pizza for dinner there's a very good chance you'll have an OLAM ingredient."
Forty people have already been hired. Gibbons expects the number to double in a few months. "This is our West Coast headquarters. This is definitely where we have our biggest foot-print in the U.S."
OLAM employs over three-thousand people at its Valley plants. It bought this tomato processing plant in Lemoore when SK Foods went bankrupt in 2009.
"Where others saw difficulty they saw opportunity."
Riverdale farmer Mark Borba says OLAM immediately offers local growers more options. "We need folks who market worldwide, who have the pulse of the world markets and who are capable of handling the volumes that we produce."
It's hoped the Valley can now build off OLAM's international presence.
Steve Geil said, "I think we'll start to see the mega agriculture businesses start to look at Fresno."
OLAM is also banking on locally grown Stevia ... a zero calorie sweetener. OLAM is the biggest shareholder in pure circle, which processes what some call the sweetener of the future.
"Right now with sugar prices where they are, it's cheaper than sugar so it's got a lot of potential," said Gibbons. "It's already used in a lot of products so we expect to see a lot more growth there."
Because of the Valley's ideal growing conditions, Gibbons also said he expects to add many more products to the OLAM portfolio.
ag report, fresno, fresno county, stevia, ag watch, dale yurong
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