Yakima County Development Association - Roundtable Group Tours Toppenish Del Monte Plant

Jean Brown

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Jean Brown

Jean publishes a blog called the Enterprise Corner.  It features articles on entrepreneurship, local industry trends, manufacturing news and periodic ‘toolbox’ articles showcasing assistance, incentives and other resources for local businesses.

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Roundtable Group Tours Toppenish Del Monte Plant

Roundtable Group Tours Toppenish Del Monte Plant

June 19, 2015

Thursday morning our Industry Roundtable enjoyed a tour at the Del Monte facility in Toppenish. The cannery has been a fixture in the area since 1886 for locally grown corn and peas. The industry giant maintains a strong commitment to the community. Its longstanding relationship with growers, suppliers and brand managers is clearly a source of pride for the Del Monte staff.

Our visit Thursday showcased the processing of peas, which runs from May to July. Their high volume crop is corn, which typically begins in August and ends in October. We learned that our warmer than usual spring has created a challenge for the harvesting team. Determining the perfect ripeness for harvesting crops is quite scientific and critical to the canning process. We witnessed the hourly testing they perform on peas and the science of crop sensitivity that goes into canning the premium or fancy products Del Monte is known for. It was impressive to learn that Del Monte harvests about 100 acres of peas and 300 acres of corn per day which adds up to over a million cases of canned veggies in a year.

The Toppenish facility boasts the title of the 2nd largest processing plant in the Del Monte family. Sitting on 48 acres in the heart of Toppenish, the operation consists of 485 thousand square feet of production facilities and warehouse space, making them a significant employer for the valley. Over 50 full time staff keep the company humming with an additional 300 or so added during peak seasons. They are happy to report that 92% of their seasonal workforce return each year to get them through their seasonal crops. Dennis Flabetich, Human Resources Director commented that “these dedicated folks make our facility more efficient, reduce training and keep downtime to a minimum.”

Dennis explained that the company was purchased last year by Del Monte Pacific Limited in the Philippines, which has given them a more global perspective and has them preparing for new opportunities. It was a pleasure to meet their knowledgeable staff and see the processing of our local crops into cans of national brands recognized on store shelves around the world.

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