The 4FrontED region is recognized as a leading agricultural center, especially for the production of vegetables, fruits, and grains. Not surprisingly, the food processing industry has emerged as an important and growing part of the regional economy. Leading industry players in the region include Bimbo Bakeries, Frito Lay, La Moderna, Kellogg’s, Dole, and Almark. Important to the continuing development of this industry is the region’s water supply. The Yuma area has senior water rights to the Colorado River (1/3 of Arizona’s allocation).
Strengths of the region’s growing profile in the food processing industry include:
- Over 90 percent of the nation’s winter leafy green vegetables are grown in the 4FrontED area
- The region is home to the University of Arizona’s Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture
- The strength of the region’s agricultural production is under pinned by the application of cutting edge technology that offers field precision, efficiency, mechanization and automation, remote sensing, and crop/field imaging
- Long established and new manufacturing/food processing operations validate the region as a location for ag-related industries
- The 4FrontED region has a long history of providing skilled ag-industry workers. More than 30,000 to 40,000 seasonal workers annually converge on the 4FrontED region during the winter months
- Market access for final product distribution is exceptional. There are nearly 40 million consumers within 500 miles of the 4FrontED region
- The Yuma area hosts 25 fresh produce coolers, 6 date and 4 citrus packing facilities in support of the ag industry
The food processing industry is a growing part of the Yuma County and regional economy. Almark Foods has opened a 120,000 square foot egg processing facility and McCormick & Company (Gourmet Garden) has announced plans for a new 100,000 square foot herb and spice processing plant in Yuma. These two projects represent more than $60 million in new capital investment and employment over 250 people at completion.