Towering stainless steel tanks on the edge of Lodi's wine country. It must be a new winery, right? Not quite.
Think something sweeter.
It's Archer Daniel Midland's new corn syrup terminal, poised to distribute dry and liquid sweetener throughout Northern California.
"In a lot of ways this is like a winery with a railyard," said Ian Poulin, the plant's project manager, following yesterday's ribbon cutting at the 15-acre site on North Guild Avenue and Victor Road.
Here's how the plant will work:
Rail cars carrying tons of syrup processed in the Midwest will arrive. They'll pull up next to the plant's "storage tank farm," using rail spurs from the Central California Traction Company's mainline.
The syrup will then be pumped into the tanks, where it will stay until an order is made, say, from Pepsi, General Mills or Jelly Belly, just a few of ADM's customers.
Dry sugar will arrive the same way, and be loaded into the plant's 50-foot steel silo, the site's tallest structure.
Eighteen truck trips will be generated each morning and afternoon to deliver the products, according to a 2006 traffic study estimate by Loomis-based KD Anderson and Associates, Inc.
"It's huge to get $10,000," Salvation Army Lt. Dan Williams said, holding an oversized billboard check. "Especially right now, with the economy. Donations have been down … It's a blessing."
The money will help fund the charity group's culinary class, which provides entry-level food training for men and women who have completed the charity's drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
Six people graduated from the class April 30. A new class is set to start next month.
For more information about the class, contact the Lodi Salvation Army at (209) 367-9560.
- News-Sentinel staff
"It's a very simple process," Poulin said. "We unload the products. We load them as orders come in and ship them out."
Lodi planning commissioners unanimously approved the plant in April 2007. Construction started shortly after.
Ten employees will work there at first. Future expansion could add 30 new workers or more, depending on the market for sweeteners, Poulin said.
"With the population growth that we're having in the (Bay Area) and the Valley, the market is ever increasing," he added. "That's one of the reasons we located here."
Another is Lodi's proximity to rail and freeways, ADM officials noted during a windy late-morning luncheon at the site.
One of ADM's sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, has been the subject of concern in recent years by some experts who see it as a possible cause for obesity.
News reports show health experts are split over whether the product itself is a health risk compared with other sweeteners. Many believe that the higher concentrations of the sweetener, not the sweetener itself, is the problem.
ADM has defended its product saying the sweetener is a natural product, made of corn.
"We are very proud about (high fructose corn syrup) being a very economical, high quality product that will go into your foods," said Dennis Riddle, the company's vice president of corn processing, speaking at the luncheon.
Requests for ADM officials to expand upon the topic were not granted.
Numerous political and business leaders from throughout the region attended Tuesday's event.
Lodi Mayor JoAnne Mounce welcomed ADM to town, noting the company brings valuable jobs and revenue to the city.
"As the mayor of Lodi, I personally thank you for making Lodi just a little bit sweeter," she said.