Nearby Campbell Soup plant set to expand

Campbell Soup Company’s local tomato production plant near Dixon has plans for expansion thanks to funding from the corporate office.

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board approved a tentative order for new food processing wastewater requirements for the larger plant on 8380 Pedrick Road near Dixon at a meeting last week.

Built in 1975, the Dixon plant is Campbell Soup’s largest tomato processing facility and currently employs approximately 180 people.

Dave Clegern, public information officer for the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), said the plant stills needs to update its water discharge analysis in an antidegradtion study. There does not appear to be an increased volume of water, but it is over a broader area.

“We’re not opposed to business growth,” Clegern said. “We just need to make sure the water quality isn’t degraded.”

The bigger plant will include new equipment and control systems for vegetable receiving, preparation, concentration and packaging.

They will also increase tomato processing during the summer by 60 days initially and allow for nine other vegetable ingredients to be processed during the spring and fall.

The season currently runs from July through October and will expand to run from May through October.

“The expansion of the Dixon facility will enable us to process a wide variety of California grown vegetables,” said Michael Dunn, vice president, manufacturing of Campbell’s Sacramento Operations in a press release. “We expect the benefits of the expansion to extend beyond Campbell and have a positive impact on local farmers, as well as the many other businesses that support farmers, such as supply and transportation companies.”

A UC Agricultural Issues Center study, commissioned by Solano County, on county farming, noted local agriculture needed to grow beyond its two major processing plants – the Campbell plant and a rendering plant.

Shortly thereafter, Campbell began taking steps to expand the plant at a cost of $23 million to process more tomatoes and other vegetables as well for its V8 and V8 Fusion brands.

The planned investment will increase tomato processing capacity by 15 percent and will allow the company to expand its beverage business, as well as vegetable ingredients for its soups and sauces such as Prego pasta sauce and Pace salsa.

“The demand for healthy beverages continues to grow as more people try to find easier ways to incorporate vegetables into their daily diet,” said Irene Britt, vice president and general manager of sauces & beverages, Campbell USA. “We expect the expansion of our Dixon facility to help us meet the increased consumer demand for Campbell beverages.”

Michael Ammann, president of the Solano Economic Development Corporation said there is potential to further expand the operation to a year-round one with more production lines. Because of certain air restrictions, he said Solano County is working on acquiring credits for air permit emissions.

“UC Davis does great seed research for this plant and others, so we have really high quality tomatoes,” Ammann said. “We not only want to increase employment, but be able to have the results go right back to the farm. We’re happy with the expansion, but there is still room for growth.”

Solano county agricultural commissioner Jim Allan said the local government will gain sales tax from new employee purchases. Additional truck drivers may be hired, further contributing to the economy.

ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached city@theaggie.org.

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