1st Quality Produce expands to new facility

A wholesale and custom fresh-cut produce company is growing, allowing it to hire more than 50 new employees, and finding ways to save on water usage.

1st Quality Produce moved from a small building in the industrial area south of downtown Fresno to a remodeled 35,000-square-foot facility nearly two miles away that once housed a pipe company at Orange and Church avenues. Parts of the building are still under construction and expect to be finished by June.

Founded in 1989, the produce company sells and distributes fresh fruits and vegetables in a variety of cuts as well as tortillas and edible flowers. Its customers include hotels, restaurants, schools, hospitals, casinos and catering companies.

The new facility has a 20,000-square-foot custom processing area that can produce more than 40,000 pounds of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables a day, company officials said. A water recycling system was also installed to help reduce consumption.

“With current drought conditions, we wanted to figure out a way to recycle our water,” said Mike Kahaian, chief executive officer. “We now have a system in line that gathers all of our rinse water to recycle and reuse. The clean water is then used back into our processing line.”

The company does not yet know how much water is saved, officials said.

Other plans at the new site are to build a vegetable garden on a quarter acre of open field behind the facility to use for educational purposes.