The family legacy continues at National Raisin Company
In 1969, National Raisin Company was founded by three brothers, Kenneth, Ernie and Krikor Bedrosian.
The company became a Friends of the Family Farm sponsor in 2011 due to their connection with farmers and growers in the Valley. “We’ve been here for over 40 years, so it’s a natural fit for the company,” said Michael Bedrosian, who is Krikor’s son and manager of the grower receiving office.
“Business relies on growers and relationships with growers,” added Paul Bedrosian, who is Kenneth’s son and manager of the farms and dehydrators in the southern San Joaquin Valley.
“They [the growers] are part of us,” said Michael.
National Raisin Company began as a raisin growing and bulk packing operation for cereal and other products of the sort. However, over the years as retail markets began to expand, the company was able to fulfill a need for private label packing. In addition, National Raisin Company has its own label, Champion, which is sold in Save Mart and Walmart.
Today, the company has grown to be the largest family owned, vertically integrated dried fruit product manufacturer in the United States, packing 80 percent of private branded, or store brand, raisin products. National Raisin Company distributes its products throughout the country and exports to approximately 20 countries around the world.
As the largest family owned dried fruit product manufacturer in the U.S., it continues to be extremely family oriented, with family members involved in all aspects of the company to ensure it’s running efficiently. The family continues to meet on a weekly basis. In addition, the three founders are still very involved. “They’ll be here actively as long as they are able to,” Michael said.
The company specializes in raisins, prunes, figs, apricots and specialty fruits, growing their own produce, as well as purchasing produce, to fulfill consumer demand. National Raisin Company grows their own raisins, as well as purchases from outside growers who are based from Bakersfield to Madera. They also grow prunes, sourcing the remaining from growers who are based from Tulare to Yuba City. Figs, apricots and specialty fruits are brought in to meet consumer needs.
National Raisin Company produces dried fruit for confectionary, as well as sizes its fruit for different needs. Larger raisins are candy coated, medium sized raisins are sold in stores and small sized raisins are used as specialty items.
Consumer clients desire different things and want to be different from their competitors, Michael explained. Therefore, the company tries to be different and serve their clients the best they can.
The company also regularly conducts company audits. National Raisin Company has been certified by auditing companies that conduct a complete sweep of the facility. Although it takes about a week to complete the process, the company has received an A grade.
In addition, National Raisin Company’s processing line is very unique. Five lasers take out the raisin stems and one x-ray machine acts as a finisher by removing foreign objects and glass. This technology assists the company with one of their main goals, which is striving to produce the cleanest raisin on the market.
“National Raisin Company has been here for more than 40 years. We plan to be here for many years to come, serving this Valley and our growers,” said Michael. “With the second generation of the family now taking over, we plan to keep National Raisin Company strong.”
“Our growers are very important to us,” added Paul. “Taking care of them is our number one priority, as well as taking care of our employees.” National Raisin Company employs approximately 400 individuals.
Friends of the Family Farm Spotlight Profile: Ag Today, Aug 12
By: Katie Rodgers