The Grower Direct Nut Company Selects Napasol Steam Technology for Pasteurizing their Walnuts

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The Grower Direct Nut Company of Hughson California has invested in a large Pasteurization line with market leader Napasol. The high capacity line, to be operational for the 2016 crop, is a validated pathogen reduction process that applies dry saturated steam and preserves the raw qualities of walnuts.

Pasteurization is a natural for us as it will give us an advantage in a market which is increasingly focused on food safety, and with Napasol we have a validated process that will meet the highest FDA standards for pasteurization

The Grower Direct Company of Hughson CA, one of the larger walnut processors in the state, is a family owned and operated business founded in 2004. Four generations of the Martella family have been growing and harvesting walnuts in Stanislaus County and today, in addition to their commercial harvesting business, they run one of the largest walnut hullers and dehydrators in California and a modern shelling and processing facility where walnuts are graded, sized, shelled and packaged. Grower Direct Nut Company markets walnuts worldwide for its family orchards as well as crops from other walnut growers in the California central valley.

Growing the business and meeting quality requirements has meant significant investments in infrastructure and sorting, sizing, and dicing equipment, and packing lines. The Martella’s have been looking into adding pasteurization equipment in their facility for a number of years recognizing the market pressures for microbiological safety of nuts. After an unsuccessful trial period with equipment from a California equipment manufacturer, the family decided on investing in the technology offered by Napasol AG, a Swiss company. Lucio Salazar, Operations manager at Grower Direct, explains “we have carefully studied the technologies in the market and Napasol is definitely the best” adding “the efficiency and flexibility of their equipment will allow us to pasteurize all our products and offer some contract pasteurization services for other walnut processors and for treating other nuts”

The industry has been pasteurizing nuts particularly since the 2007 Almond Board Marketing Order, and pistachios and hazelnuts and walnuts as well as other nuts have been following suit. Although Propylene oxide is commonly used for pasteurizing almonds, the market is moving away from chemical processes which are not in line with the consumer’s perception of nuts being natural and healthy. According to Aaron Martella, President of Grower Direct, “Pasteurization is a natural for us as it will give us an advantage in a market which is increasingly focused on food safety, and with Napasol we have a validated process that will meet the highest FDA standards for pasteurization”

The Grower Direct Company Limited is located in Hughson, California. The family business which is growing rapidly currently employs 250 people. The addition of a high throughput pasteurization line will certainly contribute to that growth by opening new markets for their naturally pasteurized walnuts and attract industrial players looking for contract pasteurization services.
Napasol AG is a Swiss company providing pasteurization equipment for nuts, seeds, herbs, spices and other low moisture foods. With saturated steam the Napasol process reliably delivers validated pathogen reduction while preserving the natural raw characteristic of nuts. With seven large units already operating or starting up in 2016 in California and Oregon, Napasol has established itself as the market leader in the pasteurization of nuts.

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Aaron Martella

Cameon Ivarsson
Napasol
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