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Natural Foods Merchandiser

Sneak peek: Manufacturing Plant Tour

Ever wondered how vitamins are made? What a food production line looks like? What makes a facility green? On Saturday, March 13, at noon, Expo attendees will have the opportunity to answer all these questions and more on the first-ever Manufacturing Plant Tour, which will visit three local facilities.

Robinson Pharma
2632-2638 S. Croddy Way
Santa Ana, CA 92704

Robinson Pharma is a family-run contract manufacturer of dietary supplements for most distribution channels. It occupies three buildings and more than 400,000 square feet, with manufacturing facilities for tablets, capsules and softgels. RPI is the largest nutraceutical softgel facility in the country.

“The tour of RPI will focus on our headquarters facility, which includes our softgel encapsulation facility, our laboratories and our packaging operations,” says Kenn Israel, vice president of marketing. “Our facility features a world-class laboratory and one of the few true concept-to-shelf–capable shops in the industry.”

Earth Friendly Products
12601 Monarch St.
Garden Grove, CA 92841

The next featured manufacturer is Earth Friendly Products, maker of more than 150 household and commercial cleaning products. The company runs five separate facilities in the U.S. to cut down on its carbon footprint. The 100,000-square-foot Garden Grove facility includes labs and product lines.
“All our processes are green, as is the facility itself,” says Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, co-owner and daughter of the company’s founder, who emigrated from Greece and started Earth Friendly Products in the 1960s. “We have bamboo floors, low-volatile organic-compound paints, and the facility is powered by 300 solar panels on the roof.”

In spite of a down economy, Earth Friendly had strong growth last year. Vlahakis-Hanks says all its products, including best sellers like Ecos laundry detergent and Orange Plus cleaner, are based on three key principles—“value, efficacy and being green.” Participants will get a chance to tour the lab, see the production lines in action and even check out the rooftop’s solar array.

Maplegrove Gluten Free Foods
13112 Santa Ana Ave., Unit A2-A3
Fontana, CA 92337

The Manufacturing Plant Tour will also stop at Maplegrove Gluten Free Foods, a manufacturing facility dedicated exclusively to producing rice-based pasta under the Pastariso and Pastato brands. “This is a pasta factory every day of the year, with up to four production lines,” Maplegrove Gluten Free Foods Vice President of Sales and Marketing Sylvia Tam says. The company started in Canada in 1982 and opened its California facility in 2008. Its products are kosher and certified gluten free, and the manufacturing facility produces both natural and certified organic rice-based pastas.

Tour participants will learn about how humidity, formulation and drying conditions can affect the taste and texture of the finished pasta, which is made with only two ingredients—whole-grain rice flour and water. Attendees will then have the opportunity to sample the whole-grain rice pasta themselves. –Mitchell Clute

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